Year 2 Project

CoVaRR-Net Researchers

Angela Rasmussen, University of Saskatchewan, Lead of Pillar 2: Host-Pathogen Interactions, and Project Lead

Arinjay Banerjee, University of Saskatchewan, Pillar 2 Deputy
Darryl Falzarano, University of Saskatchewan, Pillar 3 Deputy
Anne-Claude Gingras, Pillar 4 Lead
Jason Kindrachuk, University of Manitoba, Pillar 2 Deputy
Samira Mubareka, University of Toronto, Pillar 2 Deputy
Bradley Pickering, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Pillar 2 Deputy
Selena Sagan, McGill University, Pillar 2 Deputy


Kristian Anderson, Scripps Research Institute
Simon Anthony, University of California, Davis
Jeff Bowman, Trent University
Robert Garry, Tulane University
Edward Holmes, University of Sydney
Claire Jardine, University of Guelph
Andrea Osborne, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Andrew Rambaut, University of Edinburgh
David Threadgill, Texas A&M University
Joel Wertheim, University of California, San Diego
Michael Worobey, University of Arizona

Lay Summary

Emerging viruses are one of the greatest threats to global health and security. The severity and impact of the pathogen are determined by its interactions with a host. Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented effects on human health and massive economic consequences.

Novel disease outbreaks frequently begin with cross-species spillover resulting from interactions and exposure opportunities among wildlife and humans. There have been increasing reports of SARS-CoV-2 infection in wild, captive, and domesticated animals, including those distributed and present throughout Canada. This highlights the urgent need to better understand SARS-CoV-2 host range and its emerging variants of concern (VOCs) can affect.

For year two, we have prioritized the following projects to better understand, characterize and evaluate the risks to both animal and human populations in terms of cross-species transmissibility and disease severity:

  • Produce virus stocks, including ACE2 constructs and cell lines, pseudoviruses, and primary cell lines from susceptible species and develop reagents to support research in Pillar 2 and throughout CoVaRR-Net. These crucial resources will be essential for accomplishing Pillar 2 goals and facilitating swift, dynamic responses to novel emerging variants.
  • Screen diverse animal species for broad susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 and specific VOCs. We aim to prioritize susceptible North American species, as well as map regions of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that are required to help the virus enter each species, to inform future work assessing the broader risk to the Canadian population.
  • Obtain molecular profiling data from animal models and wildlife samples to better understand host-pathogen interactions. More specifically, establish and resolve SARS-CoV-2 infections, and the pathophysiological The study of the disordered physiological processes that cause, result from, or are otherwise associated with a disease or injury. impact of infections across diverse animal species. These molecular profiles will provide new methods to predict outcomes and assess risks posed by novel emerging variants to both humans and animals.
  • Construct a risk matrix for susceptible animal species in Canada to prioritize species based on their risk to humans and animals.

Our work will provide critical information for surveillance, efforts to reduce the public health risk, and strategies to mitigate the One Health impact of SARS-CoV-2 in animal and human populations.


$625,000 cash contribution