The rapid emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants poses a global concern with implications for the health of individuals worldwide. In response to the ongoing threat, the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network (CoVaRR-Net) was established to provide researchers with the necessary support to conduct research that can aid in combating this highly transmissible virus and to mitigate the severity of future pandemics and outbreaks.

In an article recently published in the Journal of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada (JAMMI), the authors describe the importance of the CoVaRR-Net Biobank, whose established infrastructure and governance facilitates rapid and open resource sharing for biomedical researchers in a pandemic. The Biobank’s innovations in procedures and customized metabase support a large repository of biological specimens and associated clinical data, collected under the highest scientific, ethical and legal standards. These resources are being actively connected between biobanks across Canada, in a federated manner, to be easily accessible to academic researchers and public health laboratories in a timely fashion. Critical to this are universal contractual agreements and multi-jurisdictional ethics protocols developed by CoVaRR-Net that facilitate rapid and effective collaborations across the country.

Finally, this paper describes how this framework positions the CoVaRR-Net Biobank in a unifying role for national pandemic preparedness that can readily accelerate research towards the development of diagnostic and surveillance tests for emerging infectious diseases and effective treatments thereof, while helping to guide Canadian decision makers in health policy.

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Raphael Saginur, James Robblee, Agatha Vranjkovic, Laura Tamblyn, Amy Hsu, Curtis Cooper, Donald Vinh, Marc-André Langlois, Angela Crawley. No time for complacency: The CoVaRR-Net Biobank is an essential element of laboratory preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks. Journal of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Canada. 2022.12.13;0009;