Ontario announces first wave of COVID-19 research projects

Doug Ford during a press conference (Screen grab via Premier of Ontario YouTube)

Ontario has turned to its research community for weapons against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his daily media briefing at Queen’s Park Thursday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that several projects, with the objective of treating and curing COVID-19, have been awarded with the first batch of research funding.

The money comes from the province’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, announced a month ago. The projects range from vaccine development to social sciences in relation to the pandemic.

Two of the first 15 recipients of money from this research fund are from Western University in London. One recipient is a food security project under the direction of Dr. Jason Gilliland, director of the Urban Development Program. The other is a vaccine development project led by Shawn Li, PhD, a biochemistry professor.

Furthermore, Ford announced that 22 clinical trials are ongoing in Ontario with the hope of developing a vaccine. The premier said the number of Ontario trials leads the nation.

“I want that vaccine to be discovered here in Ontario,” said Ford. “There’s no reason why a new rapid testing method, vaccine or treatment can’t be found right here in Ontario. Our government is investing in some very promising research proposals, which have the potential to save lives and help us get back to a way of life that is as close to normal as possible.”

Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities, said he was not surprised to see so many promising efforts coming out of the province’s post-secondary institutions.

“Researchers in Ontario represent some of the best and brightest in the country and we are tapping into their expertise to find Ontario-based solutions to treat the infection and stop the spread of the virus,” said Romano. “Our government is encouraged by the ideas and solutions researchers have put forward to-date. These projects will support Ontario’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and help us make smart and effective decisions as we look ahead to the future.”

Complete information on the COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund can be found on the province’s official website.