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Manitoba to spend $5M on COVID-19 research fund
WINNIPEG -- The Province of Manitoba has announced it will be spending $5 million on a COVID-19 research fund.
Health Minister Cameron Friesen announced the new fund on Wednesday afternoon at a press conference in the Manitoba legislature.
The province said clinical and scientific researchers, along with health officials from the province, Shared Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority have identified several new research projects.
"Our government is thankful for the work of scientists and researchers in our province," said Friesen. "Their work demonstrates that we are not in this fight alone."
PROVINCE TO FUND FIRST COVID-19 CLINICAL TRIAL
Of the $5 million, the province said $3.5 million will be used to support clinical and applied research. This includes $700,000 which is going towards Manitoba's first clinical trial for a drug to fight the virus.
The trial, which is being done by researchers at the University of Manitoba, is testing whether the drug hydroxychloroquine, used to treat rheumatology issues, can prevent people from contracting COVID-19.
"We are asking Manitobans who meet the study's criteria to consider joining this trial, to help us scientifically prove the benefits for Manitobans and people all around the world," Friesen said.
More information about the first clinical trial can be found online.
So far, there are about 500 patients in Canada and the U.S. enrolled in the trial, said Dr. Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor and clinician-scientist at the University of Manitoba's department of medicine.
"Patients who are positive, if you live with someone who is positive, or are a healthcare worker with high risk of exposure – do think about participating in the trial," Zarychanski said. "We will welcome your involvement."
He said results of the trial should be available in the next few weeks.
Zarychanski said a vaccine for COVID-19 will probably take another year or more to develop.
APPLICATIONS FOR FUND TO OPEN SOON
Another $500,000 will be put towards partnerships with industry and philanthropic sources to support trials across Canada and in seven other countries, the province said.
Another $1 million will be used on COVID-19 innovation projects, the province said, which will include the development of diagnostic tools.
The COVID-19 fund will also build on funding for other research projects including the University of Manitoba investigating how logistical systems can adapt to a pandemic, developing a cost-effective, point-of-need diagnostic test for COVID-19 at the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health, and developing a COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Manitoba.
"We recognize that time is of the essence," said Tracey Maconachie, board chair of Research Manitoba. "This research needs to happen quickly, some of it may have already begun."
Maconachie said Research Manitoba applications for the fund from companies and businesses will be available online in the next seven days.
More information about the fund can be found on the Research Manitoba website.