2 Western University COVID-19 response projects receive federal funding

Maxwell Smith, left; and Anita Kothari, right. via Western University

Two research teams out of Western University are among 47 to receive a portion of $26.7-million in federal funding as part of Canada’s response to the novel coronavirus.

Maxwell Smith, a faculty of health sciences professor at Western who also has had an ongoing ethics advisory role to the World Health Organization, is leading a project examining the ethics behind rapid research and development of treatments and vaccines.

More specifically, Smith will examine the world’s response to the Ebola virus and how it can serve as an ethics template during the health crisis. In the case of Ebola, treatment and vaccines were “developed in a matter of months, instead of the usual decades.”

“We’re all in this together,” Smith said in a statement.

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“The more people worry that everyone is affected, or could be affected, the more we will see solidarity, to collaborate instead of to compete.”

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Smith’s project has received a grant of $283,656.

Click to play video: 'Developing a vaccine for the Ebola virus'
Developing a vaccine for the Ebola virus

The other project out of Western to receive federal funding will focus on providing public health agencies the tools to provide timely, credible, evidence-based information online.

The research team includes health sciences and Schulich school of medicine and dentistry professor at Western, Anita Kothari.

“At the national level, there’s an opportunity to develop some co-ordinated guidelines about developing emergency resources,” she said.

The project aims to develop an emergency response toolkit to standardize social-media strategies, monitor misinformation, and respond to concerns from the public.

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Her team has been awarded $129,600 in funding.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 rumours, hoaxes spread on social media'
COVID-19 rumours, hoaxes spread on social media

Funding comes through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Research Coordinating Committee through the New Frontiers in Research Fund, International Development Research Centre, and Genome Canada.

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