Pre-announcement: Notice of upcoming COVID-19 research funding opportunity

Press Release

CIHR would like to provide information to the research community on an upcoming funding opportunity, as part of Government of Canada’s continued response to address the health challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In September 2021, we will launch a competition “Operating Grant: Addressing the Wider Health Impacts of COVID-19” that will enable rapid and timely research responding to the current and next phase of the wider impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and around the globe.

We are providing preliminary information at this time to allow the research community to prepare and respond to an expedited process.

Funding opportunity: Addressing the Wider Health Impacts of COVID-19

While research priorities addressing the direct effects of COVID-19 remain highly relevant, very little is known about the wider impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and response on the health and health care of people in Canada. This will only become more important over the next few months as health systems deal with subsequent waves of COVID-19, deliver vaccines and start to recover. While the direct impacts of COVID-19, variants of concern, and vaccination have been prioritized in the short term, so too should research on the wider impacts of the pandemic so that evidence-informed practices and policies can be implemented at the earliest possible time. The disruption to the economy, education, social relationships and health care have been harmful and severe, causing substantial suffering, mortality and potential lifelong impacts. These wider impacts are frequently more challenging to observe, catalogue and address because they fall across a much broader spectrum of services, as well often being longer term and/or harder to specifically establish attribution. Without focused attention, these major consequences are likely to remain poorly understood, impact the health of people in Canada, and create a significant lag in evidence-informed practices and policies.


The specific objectives of this funding opportunity are to:

  1. Understand the extent and impact of the indirect and wider health consequences of COVID-19 and the resilience of Canadians;
  2. Generate evidence related to one or more diverse population(s), for instance: health equity considerations, health status (e.g., high risk populations, individuals with comorbid conditions, impact on people living with Sexually Transmitted and Blood-borne Infections), sex and gender, a life cycle approach (from children to older adults), and/or racialized, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) populations, immigrants and other marginalized groups. Inform solutions to mitigate health, social and structural disparities that disproportionately affect these groups during and after the pandemic.
  3. Identify effective interventions (policy, practice and/or models of care) to ameliorate the wider impacts of COVID-19 and improve preparedness for future health emergencies and pandemics.

Research areas

The Government of Canada will provide funding for applications determined to be relevant to one of the research areas below.

  1. The impact of deferred/displaced care on health, such as but not limited to;
    • Replacement of in-person physician’s office with virtual care and the impact of virtual care on key outcome measures (e.g. patient outcomes, access, utilization, continuity, quality and safety, equity, cost);
    • Deferred multi-disciplinary care or changes to care practices for people who are pregnant, people with physical or neuro-developmental disabilities and chronic conditions (e.g., organ transplants and donation (lung, heart, kidney diseases), cancer, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune conditions, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections such as HIV or Hepatitis C, depression and anxiety, diagnosis and therapy for Autism Spectrum disorder, intensive therapy for disabilities, etc.);
    • Suspension/interruption of cancer screening;
    • Suspension/interruption of routine childhood screening and vaccination;
    • Cancellation or delays of non-emergency surgery;
    • Limited access to treatment;
    • Avoidance of care and treatment due to fear of contracting COVID-19;
    • Development and evaluation or implementation of innovative strategies to improve timely access to culturally safe clinical management approaches (e.g. virtual service delivery models) for people living with HIV, including in remote locations or Indigenous communities; and
    • Understanding how public health and infection control measures in response to COVID-19 have impacted the provision of HIV and STBBI prevention, testing and treatment services for people living with HIV or those at highest risk for acquiring HIV and other STBBI, including in remote locations and/or Indigenous communities.
  2. The impact of the pandemic on social, economic and population issues as well as the public health outcomes, such as but not limited to;
    • Exacerbated substance use;
    • Domestic violence;
    • Impacts on infants, children and youth and their early development, education and social connection;
    • Effect on older adults including social isolation and loneliness;
    • Workplace safety concerns;
    • Health workforce concerns and burnouts;
    • Resilience and health behaviours;
    • Unemployment-induced mental health challenges; and
    • Economic stability.
  3. Exacerbation of existing disparities among marginalized populations (including but not limited to Indigenous Peoples; individuals marginalized by race, gender, disability; age; individuals experiencing homelessness; prisoner populations; African Caribbean and Black population in Canada; etc.)
    • Increased or exacerbated poverty and food insecurity;
    • Access to health services, and
    • Systemic racism.

Availability of funds

The total amount available for this funding opportunity and the second competition for the Operating Grant: Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities July 2021 is approximately $88M. The amount invested in these funding opportunities will not be the full $88M and the final amount will depend on the number and quality, as assessed by peer review, of applications received to this and other COVID-19 competitions. This amount may increase if additional funding partners participate.

  • The maximum amount per grant that can be requested for clinical trial research is $1,000,000 over 2 years.
  • The maximum amount per grant that can be requested for all other types of research is $500,000 over 2 years.

Preliminary application details

Application requirements for the application process will be outlined in the Funding Opportunity details to come. The application process will be comprised of two steps: Registration and Full Application and will be very similar to the Operating Grant: Emerging COVID-19 Research Gaps & Priorities July 2021 instructions. We encourage you to visit these instructions to familiarize yourself to what is to come.

Expected key dates

  • Anticipated launch: Week of September 7, 2021
  • Anticipated registration deadline: Week of October 18, 2021
  • Anticipated application deadline: Week of November 8, 2021
  • Anticipated peer review completed: February 7, 2022
  • Anticipated notice of decision: February 28, 2022
  • Funding start date: February 1, 2022


The information contained herein is anticipatory only and does not represent an official funding commitment by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Accordingly, the information, contained herein may differ from the official funding opportunity that will be published on ResearchNet.


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