Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network: CoVaRR-Net
Canadians are concerned about how mutations in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, will impact how the virus is transmitted, whether it makes people more sick, and whether immunity conferred through previous exposures to SARS-CoV-2 or vaccination will still be able to fight off a mutated virus. Mutations to SARS-CoV-2 that have these outcomes are called “Variants of Concern” (VOC). CoVaRR-Net, a rapid-response Network, will assist in the Government of Canada’s overall strategy to address the threat of emerging VOC. The Network will enable the mobilization of Canadian research assets to answer critical and immediate questions regarding threats, such as increased transmissibility, pathogenicity and vaccine resistance, posed by an emerging VOC. CoVaRR-Net will act as Canada’s integrated platform for determining how VOCs impact Canadians from diverse communities and demographics. We will work collaboratively with national and international bodies such as the National Microbiology Lab, provincial/territorial public health labs, and the Canadian COVID‑19 Genomics Network that are tracking how SARS-CoV-2 is mutating in real time. Central to CoVaRR-Net’s service work will be a newly created Biobank for rapid sharing of samples and data with other biobanks across Canada in order to have a harmonized approach to the war on COVID-19. Built on a foundation of eight thematic areas (Immunology & Vaccine Protection, in vitro & in vivo Characterizations, Functional Genomics & Structure Function of VOCs, Viral Genomics & Sequencing, and In Silico Modelling & Computational Biology, Public Health, Health Systems & Social Policy Impacts, Indigenous Outreach and Knowledge Mobilization), CoVaRR-Net is poised to contribute to the Canadian effort to mitigate the impact of harmful VOCs on citizens of Canada and on the world population.