Four ways McGill researchers are spearheading pandemic innovation

More than a year and a half has passed since Canada reported its very first case of COVID-19. From social distancing to online learning, humans have quickly adapted to these new conditions in order to contain the spread of the virus. While the pandemic has posed many challenges in academia and science, researchers have seized the opportunity to innovate in existing epidemiological techniques to help contain the spread of the virus. More importantly, the pandemic has brought academics together to produce the best work possible in a short period of time. Over the past few months, many McGill researchers have contributed to key innovations in the fight against COVID-19.

  1. McGill COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking

As one of the most effective means of protection against the virus, vaccines have played a central role in limiting transmission, reducing hospitalizations and deaths, and protecting people with compromised immunity. With over 100 candidate vaccines and just over 20 approved vaccines, there is a lot to follow. However, a team of McGill researchers led by Nicole Basta, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McGill, and Erica Moodie, professor in the same department, created a tracker provide up-to-date information on the number of vaccines approved worldwide, their manufacturers, and the countries that administer these vaccines. The tracker also displays a list of potential vaccines that are currently being tested. As debates on vaccine storage and booster shots continue, tools like this will be essential in mapping access to immunization around the world.

  1. COVID-19 tests produced in the country

Many reported COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, it follows that the more COVID-19 tests are administered, the more cases are detected. The rapid results of these tests allow people who have been in contact with an infected person to self-quarantine and stop the spread of the virus. In partnership with the National Research Council (NRC), a team from McGill and RI-MUHC researchers led by Martin Schmeing, professor in the Department of Biochemistry as well as Don van Meyel, director of the Center for Translational Biology (CTB) at the RI-MUHC, secured funding that would allow them to produce millions of COVID-19 tests.

  1. Patient sequencing at the McGill Genome Center

Researchers at the McGill Genome Center recently announced a partnership with Genome Canada to extract DNA and RNA from those who have contracted COVID-19 in order to sequence it. Through genome sequencing, researchers will gain a better understanding of what makes one patient more vulnerable to coronavirus symptoms than another, helping to identify those at high risk of developing complications from the virus so their care can be prioritized. .

  1. McGill-led study found links between income inequality and COVID-19 mortality

Researchers, including Frank Elgar, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at McGill, have provided evidence revealing that COVID-19 death rates may in fact be associated with income inequality, as well as with the level of individual confidence. in government and the health system. The study showed that countries and economies with greater income inequality tend to have higher COVID-19 death rates than those with lower rates. Additionally, countries with populations that report trusting the public sector more tend to have lower death rates than those that report lower trust levels.

While the devastating human and economic consequences of the pandemic cannot be ignored, it is inspiring that researchers around the world have been able to collaborate with each other to produce meaningful work. Scientific research in the era of the pandemic has undoubtedly highlighted the importance of cross-collaboration between many scientific disciplines.

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