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NOSM University researchers part of Canadian team receiving  $10 million to research SARS-CoV-2 medications

Posted on July 12, 2022
On Thursday, July 7, 2022 the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Federal Minister of Health, announced $10M in research funding to establish the Canadian ADAptive Platform Trial of COVID-19 Therapeutics in Community Settings (Can-ADAPT COVID). Dr. Barb Zelek, Associate Professor at NOSM University, and Dr. Brianne Wood, NOSM University/Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute Associate Scientist, are part of the research team led by Dr. Andrew Pinto, Director of the Upstream Lab at St. Michael’s Hospital, a site of Unity Health Toronto, and the University of Toronto.

Dr. Pinto and team will compare oral medications for SARS-CoV-2 such as nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid™) in non-hospitalized patients, and provide key insights into whether treatments prevent “long COVID.” This study will also offer timely evidence to clinical researchers, health-system managers, and public health officials in Canada and abroad regarding impacts on hospitalizations and health care utilization.The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Health Canada will each contribute up to $5M, and the Public Health Agency of Canada will provide the research team with relevant therapeutics, including Paxlovid™. Research into the effectiveness and challenges of new COVID-19 treatments for non-hospitalized patients will be done with teams from across Canada, with provincial hubs in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland.

“We are entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dr. Zelek. “We know that at least 6.2 million people have died of COVID-19 globally and it is expected that new variants will continue to emerge, similar to what we see each year with the flu. It is important that we identify safe, effective, affordable, and evidence-based medications that will keep our communities healthy.”

“The findings of this study will help us better understand which treatment is most effective in treating patients with COVID-19,” says Dr. Zelek. “Studies like this enable informed, evidence-based decisions to take place at all levels of health care. With the opportunity for clinics across our region to participate in this impressive study, Northern Ontario’s health professionals and patients can be confident that the therapies and services are inclusive of Northern health and care realities.

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NOSM University is Canada’s first independent medical university and one of the greatest education and physician workforce strategy success stories of Northern Ontario. More than just a medical university, it was purpose built to address the health needs of the region. While advocating for equitable access to care, the university contributes to the economic development of Northern Ontario. NOSM University relies on the commitment and expertise of the peoples of Northern Ontario to educate health-care professionals to practise in Indigenous, Francophone, rural, remote and underserved communities. With a focus on diversity, inclusion and advocacy, NOSM University is an award-winning, socially accountable organization renowned for its innovative model of distributed, community-engaged education and research. NOSM University connects researchers, learners, teams and their findings to research entities, provincial health teams, research institutes, academic health sciences centres and health-care organizations. The university strengthens research capacity in Northern Ontario, improving performance and measurable outcomes in health services, quality health care, health and biomedical research and knowledge translation.

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