Year 2 Project

CoVaRR-Net Researchers

Jen Gommerman, University of Toronto, Co-Lead of Pillar 1: Immunology and Vaccine Protection, and Project Co-Lead
Ciro Piccirillo, McGill University, Co-Lead of Pillar 1: Immunology and Vaccine Protection, and Project Co-Lead

Mark Brockman, Simon Fraser University, Pillar 1 Deputy
Hélène Decaluwe, Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, Pillar 1 Deputy
Anne-Claude Gingras, Sinai Health Systems, Pillar 4 Lead & Pillar 1 Member
Scott Halperin, Dalhousie University, Pillar 1 Deputy
Vivian Liu, McGill University, Pillar 1 Member
Manish Sadarangani, University of British Columbia, Pillar 1 Deputy
Heidi Wood, National Microbiology Laboratory, Pillar 1 Member


Andrew Letizia, US Naval Medical Research Center
Thumbi Ndung’u, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Gili Regev, Sheba Medical Centre
Manuela Sironi, Universitâ di Milano
Michal Tal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Thomas Vogel, Weizmann Institute of Science
Irv Weissman, Stanford University

Lay Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in acquired immunity to SARS-CoV-2 through vaccination and/or viral infection in most Canadians. It is important to understand what that immunity looks like in vaccinated and infected Canadians. Based on the approval and rollout of mRNA vaccines to children and the emergence of the highly divergent Omicron variant, we have identified these priority areas to assess immune responses to SARS-COV-2 in vaccinated and infected Canadians during Year 2:

  • Examine the antibody response to vaccination in the saliva of adults versus children to:
    • better understand how COVID-19 vaccines provide protection through the oral cavity, a main point of viral entry;
    • to determine whether infected children are less likely to develop symptoms than adults due to a faster and stronger antibody response in the mucosal immune system.
  • Compare the immune responses in vaccinated people who have or have not had an Omicron breakthrough infection to address the public health question of whether an individual who has had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine needs to seek out a third dose following an Omicron infection.
  • Do a detailed analysis of the immune response at the genetic level in response to COVID-19 vaccination to learn how to better vaccinate in the future.

Our ability to measure immune responses to variants of concern in diverse populations and characterize immune responses in vaccinated and/or infected Canadians is important to inform vaccination strategies and ultimately provide a blueprint for the design of future vaccines against emerging pathogens. 


$625,000 cash contribution