St. Michael’s researchers awarded grants from Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

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St. Michael’s researchers awarded grants from Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force

Toronto, September 10, 2020

By Jennifer Stranges

Scientists at St. Michael’s Hospital have been awarded nearly $3 million in federal grants in support of research projects focused on improving our understanding of COVID-19 immunity in Canada.

The funding, announced Thursday, is part of a $12.4 million investment from Canada’s COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Two studies led by St. Michael’s Hospital were among the 22 total studies awarded grants.

The Government of Canada launched the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) in late April 2020 to track the spread of the virus in both the general population and priority populations in Canada. The Task Force also aims to shed light on immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 in a diversity of communities, age brackets, populations, and occupational groups across the nation. To generate this information, the Task Force is drawing on experts from universities and hospitals across Canada and working closely with provincial and territorial public health officials.

The two studies led by St. Michael’s will explore how COVID-19 affects people experiencing homelessness in Toronto, as well as children and families. Learn more about each project:

The COVENANT Study: COVID-19 Cohort Study of People Experiencing Homelessness in Toronto

Dr. Stephen Hwang
Dr. Stephen Hwang

People experiencing homelessness are at high risk of COVID-19, which can spread rapidly in homeless shelters. The COVENANT study, led by Dr. Stephen Hwang, director of the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, will obtain in-depth information on COVID-19 infections among people experiencing homelessness in Toronto. The study will follow approximately 700 individuals who are homeless over one year to identify past and new cases of COVID-19, identify factors that increase the risk of COVID-19, and build a model that accurately predicts the number of COVID-19 cases expected in the homeless population. Information from this study will be immediately useful to help guide public health strategies and housing interventions to prevent and control COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness.

TARGet Kids! COVID-19 Study of Children and Families: Safe Return to School, Work, and Play

Dr. Jonathon Maguire
Dr. Jonathon Maguire

The TARGet Kids! COVID-19 Study of Children and Families, led by Dr. Jonathon Maguire, pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital and scientist at MAP, will provide much-needed information on seroprevalence among children, siblings and parents leveraging extensive exposure data collected since April 2020. It will also assess the duration of antibody positivity, risk factors for COVID-19 infection in families, and the effectiveness of public health measures in keeping young children and their parents seronegative. The study will answer important questions about community transmission in children and parents, risk factors for infection, and disease severity.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit

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