Pre-announcement: Notice of upcoming COVID-19 research funding opportunity

The Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities July 2021 funding opportunity is now available on ResearchNet (Registration Deadline: August 10, 2021, Application deadline: September 14, 2021)

CIHR would like to provide information to the research community on one upcoming funding opportunity, as part of Government of Canada's continued response to address the health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In late July 2021, we will launch a second competition "Operating Grant: Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities Funding Opportunity" that will focus on new priority research areas.

We are providing preliminary information at this time to allow the research community to prepare and respond to an expedited process.

Funding opportunity: Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps and Priorities – July 2021 competition

As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, so have the research needs of decision makers. There are important research gaps in Canada's response that have become evident; gaps that need to be addressed rapidly and in a sustained manner to respond effectively to the pandemic. In order to achieve these goals, this funding opportunity will support research aimed to tackle priority areas to effectively mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and minimize its direct and indirect impacts on individuals and communities within and across jurisdictions in Canada and globally. Mitigation and recovery strategies require a coherent and integrated response from all Canadians, and especially from health care workers, researchers, public health authorities, industry, policymakers, decision makers at all levels, and the health system.


  1. Accelerate the availability and use of high-quality and real-time evidence and/or solutions to support Canada's ongoing response to the pandemic in order to better prevent, detect, treat and manage COVID-19; and
  2. Generate evidence related to one or more diverse population(s), including for instance: Black and other communities marginalized by race; First Nations, Inuit, Metis and Urban Indigenous; communities historically excluded from research; those experiencing health inequity; persons with disabilities and individuals across diverse health status (e.g. high risk populations, individuals with comorbid conditions); those experiencing gendered impacts of the pandemic;  and those in life stages that have been underrepresented in research (e.g. pregnant people, children, older adults). Across all populations, researchers are encouraged to consider a lifecycle approach (from preconception to older adulthood).

Research areas

Please note that to be eligible to the competition applications must address both objectives AND respond to at least one (1) of the eleven (11) specific research areas bulleted below. Note that additional research areas may be added if additional funding partners participate.

Structural inequities in the COVID-19 response and ethics

  • Develop, implement and/or evaluate community-driven solutions to structural inequalities, including systemic racism, that continue to hamper the response and recovery from COVID-19 for Indigenous Peoples as well as Black and other communities marginalized by race.
  • Understand and/or address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Indigenous Peoples, racialized minorities, LGBTQIA2S, persons with disabilities, incarcerated individuals, children and older adults, including physical health, mental health, and access to health care services.
  • Understand and/or address the impacts of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of urban populations, including those who have been historically excluded and underserved (e.g. homeless populations and Indigenous Peoples).
  • Research on ethical criteria for scarce healthcare resource allocation (e.g., ICUs, ventilators, PPEs, vaccine) in a public health emergency to inform the development of national triage protocols. Research to understand and/or address equity in access to proven COVID-19 interventions and health services internationally and the ethical implications of vaccine nationalism for LMICs. [Supported by the CIHR Centre for Research on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies]
  • Understand the underlying biological interactions between HIV and SARS-CoV-2 co-infection as it relates to (1) the impacts of living with HIV on SARS-CoV-2 infection, including effect of HIV and/or antiretroviral treatment on mutation, evolution and fitness of SARS CoV-2, COVID-19 disease severity, development of post-COVID-19 conditions, and COVID-19 vaccine safety, efficacy, and long-term durability of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2, and/or (2) the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection on people living with HIV as it relates to treatment response, disease progression and development of co-morbidities; and/or understand how public health and infection control measures in response to COVID-19 have impacted the underlying social and behavioral factors affecting the risk of infection with HIV and other STBBI, and access to prevention, testing and treatment services for HIV and STBBI, including in remote locations or Indigenous communities. [Supported by the CIHR HIV/AIDS and STBBI Research Initiative]

Ongoing impact of COVID-19 in health systems and services

  • Understand and address the impact of COVID-19 on health care systems and services including developing and implementing evidence-based interventions (policy, practice and/or models of care) to minimize harms, address backlogs, and effectively address unmet needs during and after the pandemic, including those experienced by historically excluded or underserved populations.
  • Research on models of support services and clinical care / management and rehabilitation strategies, including for historically excluded or underserved populations (e.g. First Nations, Inuit, Metis or Urban Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, or other groups who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19) experiencing post COVID-19 condition in the Canadian context.

Societal reopening in the context of COVID-19

  • Understand and improve immune responses to vaccines (immunobridging, annual boosters, boosters against variants, heterologous prime-boost); long term immune responses of SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination and duration of protection; and rate of vaccinated people developing severe diseases (1-2 doses) due to variants infection or difference in immune response.
  • Develop, implement and/or evaluate social and behavioural science approaches to inform interventions that will be needed to help people adjust to a non-pandemic situation. Targeted interventions will be needed for all age groups and all demographics: older adults, adults, and children, as well as socio-economic, geographic and cultural backgrounds (e.g. Northern contexts, rural or on-reserve vs urban, lower SES neighbourhoods).
  • Are the core public health and control measures (e.g. ventilation, movement restrictions) adequate/appropriate? Implementation science to inform scale up/adaptation of effective approaches to prevent future infections and outbreaks in high risk settings (childcare settings, schools, workplaces, jails, acute and long-term care settings, among migrant workers, homeless shelters, First Nations reserves). These include regular screening strategies, science communication, and/or roll out of mitigation plans in the case of isolated new cases.
  • Identify and evaluate the best methods for vaccine distribution to both "hard to reach" and those at risk of accelerating community spread, particularly among children, taking a holistic approach that considers barriers and facilitators at the individual, family, community, provincial and structural levels.

Availability of funds

The total funding amount available for this and upcoming COVID-19 competitions is approximately $88M. The amount invested in this competition will not be the full $88M and the final amount will depend on the number and quality, as assessed by peer review, of applications received to this and other COVID-19 competitions. This amount may increase if additional funding partners participate.

The maximum amount per grant that can be requested for a clinical trial or a randomized control trial is $1,000,000 over one year and the maximum amount per grant that can be requested for all other types of research is $500,000 over one year.

Preliminary application details

Expected key dates

  • Launch of funding opportunity: week of July 26, 2021
  • Registration deadline: week of August 9, 2021
  • Application deadline: week of September 13, 2021
  • Anticipated notice of decision: week of December 20, 2021
  • Funding start date: December 1, 2021
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