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On May 31, 2023, the Vice-President, Research, communicated that COVID-19 is no longer being treated as a special risk in human participant research. Therefore, MREB is no longer required to assess COVID-19 precautions in place for in-person research, and researchers are no longer required to provide the COVID-19 Letter of Information to research participants. Please see the FAQs below for full details and additional information.


Ethics Review Process

Do I need to submit anything to MREB due to the May 31, 2023, update from the Vice-President, Research?

It is not necessary to submit an Amendment or For Information Only (FIO) form to stop using the COVID-19 Letter of Information. If you are stopping some of the COVID-19 precautions (e.g., physical distancing), it is also not necessary to submit anything to MREB, unless it affects some other aspect of the approved application that necessitates an Amendment or FIO form. This would likely be rare, but if you are unsure, then please contact the MREB Ethics Office.

Do I need to include anything about COVID-19 precautions for in-person research in MREB submissions (new applications and amendments)?

You do not need to include information about COVID-19 risks and precautions in a new MREB application, nor in an Amendment adding in-person research. There may be some rare exceptions – see FAQs below for details.

Are there recommended COVID-19 precautions I could still be following for in-person research?

Although the COVID-19 precautions recommended by the University are no longer required for in-person research, researchers may still want to follow some, or all, of the guidelines while conducting in-person research. Note that researchers should accommodate participants who are concerned about COVID-19 transmission and wear masks and keep distance if the participant requests these precautions (and the study procedures allow for them).

What do I do if the research site still has required COVID-19 precautions in place?

Non-McMaster locations and affiliated hospitals may still have required COVID-19 related health and safety protocols. Researchers and research participants may need to adhere to those protocols in order to access the research site. It is also possible that field locations in Canada or elsewhere may have community requirements in place due to a COVID-19 surge, which will need to be followed. For already approved studies, you may need to keep using the COVID-19 LOI if these situations apply to you. For new projects, it may be necessary to include a paragraph in the standard LOI about required protocols if potential participants need that information to decide about research participation and/or to know what to expect when coming to the research site. If you are unsure whether COVID-19 information needs to be included, please contact the MREB Ethics Office.

What if I am working with a research population that is at higher risk of harm from COVID-19?

If working with a population that is at higher risk of harm from COVID-19 (e.g., older adults, people with weakened immune systems), then it is strongly recommended to follow the COVID-19 precautions recommended by the University to reduce the COVID-19 transmission risk. In rare cases, a participant population more vulnerable to COVID-19 and the unique study procedures may combine to make COVID-19 transmission a research-attributable risk. In those cases, the COVID-19 risk, and mitigation of that risk, would be part of the MREB ethics review.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at if you have any questions or to arrange a consultation meeting.