Latest information and updates about COVID-19 (coronavirus) from McMaster University
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

The Canadian Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group: Safety and Effectiveness of SARS-CoV-2- Vaccines Request for EOI

Research Admin Offices:

  • HRS

Funding Type:



Studies up to a budget of $1.5M Canadian dollars will be considered.


  • Health Sciences



Internal Deadline:

February 15, 2021

Sponsor Deadline:

March 15, 2021

Additional Dates:

  • Internal HRS Deadline - March 1, 2021


The Canadian Vaccine Surveillance Reference Group (VSRG), in partnership with the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF), and with the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), is inviting the Canadian research community to apply for funding to assess the safety and effectiveness of current and future SARS-CoV-2 vaccines deployed in Canada.

Two COVID-19 vaccines already approved by Canadian regulators are now in use. More are expected to be introduced in the months ahead. In this unprecedented situation with emergency approvals and rapid roll-out of new vaccines, there are many unanswered questions. The VSRG, drawing on colleagues from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the Canadian Immunization Research Network (CIRN), and the CITF, is prepared to fund research teams that can address major aspects of the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines with public health relevance.

This call for proposals consists of a fast-tracked 2-step process that aims to expedite vaccine surveillance related research that has been deemed a public health priority.

Additional Program Information:

This Request for Applications (RFA) is for human studies (e.g., population-based, clinical cohorts, etc.) that will collect, analyze, and report novel data relating to SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness and safety. These data will help public health decision-makers understand vaccine responses in priority populations and can address specific issues that were not sufficiently elucidated in pre-licensure Phase 3 studies. Examples of populations that were understudied in clinical trials include:

  • Racialized communities
  • Indigenous communities
  • Individuals of lower socioeconomic status
  • Individuals with active co-morbidities
  • Individuals with primary or secondary immune defects
  • Individuals with cancer including those receiving treatments for their malignancies
  • Individuals with autoimmunity including those receiving treatments that may alter their immune response

Potential applicants should be mindful of existing federal and provincial public health infrastructures, as well as networks such as CIRN, (SIC, CANVAS, SOS, etc.) and studies funded by CIHR, CITF and other organizations. All proposals will be evaluated in the context of these ongoing studies. Other areas that have significant current investment in addition to the above networks include cohorts in pregnancy, individuals in congregate living settings (long-term care, shelters, correctional settings) as well as pediatric studies. Studies of SARS-CoV-2 variants, while crucial to these efforts, are the focus of an upcoming CIHR call for proposals.

This RFA is aimed at addressing important measures of vaccine safety and effectiveness and questions that require longitudinal study. Research teams are strongly encouraged to directly link with existing public health vaccine surveillance networks or infrastructures. Priority will also be given to applications that are multi-center and involve multiple provinces.

Application/Nomination Process:



All potential applicants are required to fill out an EOI form which includes identification, priorities and a 2-page project description. EOIs will be reviewed and rated based on gaps that have been identified by the VSRG and alignment with the requirements of public health. EOIs will be accepted until February 15th, 2021 and projects that are prioritized will be immediately contacted to submit a full application.



Full applications will be accepted continuously from the time an applicant is invited and will be sent for review upon submission on a rolling basis.

Full applications will be accepted until March 15th, 2021. Proposals will be submitted using application forms, provided by the CITF Secretariat upon invitation. All proposals will be peer reviewed by at least two experts, (one member of the VSRG Working Party and one outside expert). Applicants are requested to provide suggested reviewers at the time of submission. Applicants will receive feedback from the VSRG within 14 days of receipt of the proposal. Proposals may be i) deemed to be a priority for funding, ii) deemed to be low priority for funding, or iii) be returned for modification and reconsideration for funding.

Priority will be given to proposals that:

  • Include active participation by jurisdictional public health representatives.
  • Address more than one of the above research issues/questions.
  • Involve multiple centers, and in particular, multiple Canadian provinces/territories.
  • Build upon existing networks and surveillance capacity.
  • Include a plan for engaging with study populations/communities/patient groups.

As there may be more than one application addressing similar populations, teams may be recommended to join with other applicants to create a multicentre study if justified by feasibility, sample size, and budget.



If you are applying from the Faculty of Health Sciences, please contract Health Research Services (HRS).