Previous COVID-19 studies that were led by BC Children's Hospital and BC Women's Hospital investigators.

Diagnostics, Genomics & Transmission

COVID-19 Inflammatory Blood Biomarkers for Clinical Management, Prognosis and Evaluation of Interventions

Mypinder Sekhon and Cheryl Wellington, Principal Investigators

Purpose: 1) Determine the prevalence of a COVID-19 hyper-inflammatory "cytokine storm" phenotype in patients at Vancouver General Hospital 2) Determine any potential links between cytokine storm and ARDS in COVID-19 patients 3) Profile patients with mild and severe disease in an attempt to identify biomarkers that could be developed into a rapid test for triaging patients who require urgent care from those that will recover on their own 4) Elucidate the impact of genetic variation on clinical outcomes from COVID-19 5) Identify SARS-CoV-2 relevant RNAs 6) Determine the differences between the serum cytokine profile in COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure versus non-COVID respiratory failure ICU patients.

Contact: Denise Foster

COVID Antibody Study

Pascal Lavoie, Principal Investigator

This study aims to: i) establish the antibody seroprevalence for SARS-CoV-2 in the greater Vancouver, ii) determine the proportion of individuals who have antibodies to other common human coronaviruses and iii) study the immune determinant of the response to COVID-19 and to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

For more information: Lavoie Lab

Contact: Esther Alonso-Prieto

Pulmonary Imaging of Post-COVID-19 Recovery

Don Sin, Principal Investigator

As more British Columbians become infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and recover, optimal care for these patients is uncertain due to a lack of information about disease pathophysiology and outcomes. A Post-COVID-19 Recovery Clinic (PCRC) has been established in Vancouver to evaluate clinical, physiologic, imaging and blood biomarker data towards developing an understanding of what impairments persist in survivors of COVID-19. Moreover, the PCRC is investigating what tests and treatment are required to address these ongoing challenges to patients’ health and related quality of life.

Contact: Rachel Eddy

Swab-to-PCR: Simple and Rapid Diagnosis of COVID-19 Using Extraction-Free Nucleic Acid Amplification

Peter Tilley, Principal Investigator

The primary aim of this project is to establish extraction-free qRT-PCR assays in the clinical laboratory at BC Children’s Hospital, using novel reverse transcriptase and Taq polymerase enzymes.

Contact: Michelle Dittrick

Validation of SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Assays in Dried Blood Spots

David Goldfarb, Principal Investigator

This study will test dried blood spot (DBS) samples from various sources to evaluate and validate DBS anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays across multiple testing platforms.

Contact: Michelle Dittrick

CARE COVID-19: Characterizing Antibody Response to Emerging COVID-19

Muhammad Morshed, Principal Investigator

To date, COVID-19 infection has been diagnosed solely through laboratory tests that detect viral RNA. These diagnostic tests reveal whether someone is currently infected but do not reveal critical information about the development of immunity, which requires analysis of the antibodies generated by the immune system after infection. More information is urgently needed about the development, duration, and strength of the antibody responses that lead to immunity following infection with SARS-CoV-2.

This project will evaluate four new commercial antibody detection platforms to identify suitable genomic tests, known as assays, to reliably detect different types of antibodies that can provide clues about immune response. These assays will be used to profile antibody production against SARS-CoV-2 in both newly infected and previously infected Health Care Workers (HCW) over three months. Findings will reveal how quickly HCW develop an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and how robust this protection is against subsequent exposures they will likely encounter after recovery. This antibody data can be used to immediately inform guidelines for HCW at high risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure, including return to work policies and front-line deployment strategies.

Contact: Inna Sekirov

Tracking COVID-19 for Safer Schools

Pascal Lavoie, Principal Investigator

The main objective of this study is to determine the extent to which school workers can be exposed to COVID-19 as part of their occupation. Results of this study will be used to develop strategies to help make Canadian schools safer for everyone.

Contact: Allison Watts

Immunity to Natural Viral Exposure in High-Risk Newborns: Omics Analysis of Innate Immunity in Preterm Infants in Response to Natural Flu Infection and Influenza Vaccination

Pascal Lavoie, Principal Investigator

The main objective is to study immune response to common respiratory viruses in infants using a "systems immunology" approach that allows to examine immune functions in an unbiased manner, using non-diagnostic specialized research (blood) tests.

Contact: Esther Alonso-Prieto

Tracking and Characterizing Natural Immunity to SARS-CoV2 During COVID-19 Pandemic

Theodore Steiner, Principal Investigator

There are major outstanding questions in how the immune response to Sars-CoV-2 evolves, and why outcomes are so good for some, and so devastating for others. Our work proposes to gain the first insight into how T cell meditated immunity might control these outcomes and why there are such strong sex-based differences. Understanding the natural history of these critical innate and adaptive immune functions is critical to identify patients at highest risk as well as for guiding the development of an optimal vaccine. There are many research questions that could be pursed using the samples collected from these subjects. Overall the results of this work will provide new information about the progress of the disease and potentially provide new immunological management to reduce the mortality/dissemination of the disease.

Contact: Laura Oliveira

COVID T Cells: Studying Immune Responses in COVID-19

Megan Levings, Principal Investigator

For more information: Levings Lab

Storm Seeker

Kelly Brown, Principal Investigator

This project looks at innate immune system markers that may be predictive of a cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients. Markers are informed by our expertise/work on systemic inflammatory diseases. Patients with cytokine storm syndrome typically have a poor outcome and may benefit from biologic therapy.

Human ACE2 Coding Variants: A Potential Risk Factor for COVID-19

William Gibson, Principal Investigator

The human ACE2 protein is the main protein that the virus causing COVID-19 binds to in order to enter human cells and begin an infection. ACE2 may even be the very first protein that the virus "sees" when it is inhaled or enters the body in other ways. We want to see if naturally-occurring differences in the shape of the ACE2 protein affect its ability to bind the COVID-19 virus. If they do, then these might be human genetic markers of disease susceptibility and resistance.

We are looking to link genetic data on ACE2 variants to de-identified clinical data on COVID-19. We believe that ACE2 variants may account for some "extreme phenotypes" in COVID-19, such as paediatric-onset disease or people who remain asymptomatic for long periods of time without clearing the virus completely.

Mental Health & Wellbeing

Using the MyHEARTSMAP Tool During the COVID-19 Pandemic to Determine the Impact on the Psychosocial Status of Canadian Children and Youth and Inform Mental Health Resources Planning

Quynh Doan, Principal Investigator

Emergency public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including physical distancing, school closures, and travel bans, have impacted our lives significantly. There is concern that these measures may lead to mental health issues among children, youth, and families. Mental health resource planning requires estimation of the impact of COVID-19 across the spectrum of social, psychiatric, functional and youth health areas. We will use MyHEARTSMAP, a validated online psychosocial screening tool, to identify the frequency at which specific issues occur, their severity and access to resources, to guide families to relevant mental health services and inform further resource planning.

For more information: Doan Lab Research Program

Contact: Karly Stillwell

Impact of the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak on Movement and Play Behaviours of Canadian Children and Youth: A National Survey

Guy Faulkner, Principal Investigator

Our research will examine how physical activity changes over the course of the pandemic, what factors influence whether a person is physically active, and how physical activity interacts with well-being. 

COVID-19 is an unprecedented global pandemic that presents a significant risk to human health and social functioning. The purpose of this research is to examine how public health protocols surrounding COVID-19 (e.g., social distancing) impact physical activity and mental well-being.

The primary study method is a longitudinal, observational design. Participants will be asked to complete brief (c. 10 minute) weekly online surveys that examine their mental well-being, physical activity, and thoughts about exercise. A subset of participants will also be asked to participate in brief (15-30 minutes) interviews (via telephone or computer) regarding their experience with COVID-19 and physical activity. The consequences and impact of COVID-19 preventive measures on health and healthy behaviours of adults is unknown yet could be important for informing public health messaging and behaviour modification guidance — for COVID-19 and future public health challenges.

COVID-19 and Moral Distress: COVID-19 Outbreak — Understanding the Ethical Challenges Faced by Health Care Workers

Alice Virani, Principal Investigator

In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak, BC Health Authorities, alongside the Public Health Office are implementing pandemic management plans aimed to provide patient care while preserving the wellbeing of the population. Therefore, those plans shift the model of care from a patient-centered approach to a public-centered approach, which introduces new ethical and modifies the nature, scope and context of health care workers' professional performance. As a result, pandemic management plans can lead to changes in both the type of ethical challenges that health care workers face and the approach that needs to be adopted to solve them. This places health care leaders, clinicians and even non-clinicians, such as support and maintenance staff, at a heightened risk of experiencing moral distress.

Contact: Esther Alonso-Prieto

COVID and Epilepsy Study: The impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Adolescents and Teenagers With Epilepsy

Anita N. Datta, Principal Investigator

The purpose of the study is to compare the incidence of depression and anxiety in adolescents and teenagers with self-limited or genetic generalized epilepsy before and during the COVID-19 outbreak to determine the impact of COVID-19 on mental health in these patients.

Contact: Vesna Popovska

COVID-Elicited Responses to Sexual Health (COVERS Study)

Lori Brotto, Principal Investigator

The goal of this study is to understand how changes in individuals' lives related to COVID-19 impact sexual behaviour (changes in frequency and types of solitary and partnered sexual activity), relationship status and satisfaction, sexual health behaviours (birth control and condom use), sexual motivations, sexual coercion, sexual satisfaction, anxiety and depression levels. Using an online survey, we will assess these using a longitudinal design, specifically assessing variables every 4 weeks for 6 months. We will recruit a maximum of 1000 participants of all genders, who are 19 years old or older, fluent in English, and currently reside in Canada.

Early Childhood and COVID

Mariana Brussoni, Principal Investigator

To gather rapid, timely, and large-scale national data assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions on:

Toddlers and preschoolers movement behaviours and outdoor play during current restrictions and as restrictions are eased. Parents' approach to their children's movement and outdoor play during current restrictions and as restrictions are eased. Early Learning & Child Care (ELCC) staff's approach to children's movement and outdoor play in ELCC settings during current restrictions (for those who remain open) and as restrictions are eased.

Vaccines & Treatment

Host Response Mediators in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection: Is There a Protective Effect of Losartan on Outcomes of Coronavirus Infection?

James A. Russell, Principal Investigator

This study will address the need for effective treatments for those infected with COVID-19. Specifically, for people like you, that become ill enough to require admission to hospital, we think that an existing drug called losartan might help treat COVID-19 and hasten recovery. As such, we will investigate the safety and effectiveness of losartan in the treatment of COVID-19 and whether it can decrease the rate of death in COVID-19 patients compared to usual care of standard of care (SOC). We will also determine whether losartan can help limit damage to organs (kidney, lung, heart and liver) as this type of damage has been observed in COVID-19 patients in hospital.

Contact: Lynda Lazosky

A Phase 1, Randomized, Observer-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability and Immunogenicity of the bacTRL-Spike Oral Candidate Vaccine for the Prevention of COVID-19 in Healthy Adults

Manish Sadarangani, Principal Investigator

A Phase 1, Randomized, Observer-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability and Immunogenicity of the bacTRL-Spike Oral Candidate Vaccine for the Prevention of COVID-19 in Healthy Adults.

For more information: The Vaccine Evaluation Center

Epidemiology & Public Health

CIRN39: Sociocultural and Behavioural Factors Affecting Communities' Response to Countermeasures for COVID-19 Epidemic — Identifying Interventions to Build Trust

Julie Bettinger and Eve Dubé, Principal Investigators

'Fear might be a bigger threat than the virus.' As public health authorities increase efforts to address the new coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19), rumours, misinformation, and xenophobic online posts are spreading faster than the virus. Fear and misinformation have direct implication on the implementation of effective public health measures to control the epidemic.

With this research, we will examine the individual and sociocultural factors that impact individual's and communities' adoption of public health recommendations. This study will use qualitative and quantitative methods to describe online discourses related to COVID-19 in Canada (Tweets and comments on news media report) and to describe individual/ community understanding of disease, priorities, fears, etc. including public health messaging that may impact the acceptance of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19. We will also identify interventions that will help build public trust in authorities responsible for disease spread and management, while dispelling unfounded rumours and xenophobic discourse.

For more information: The Vaccine Evaluation Center

Contact: Helen He

Sepsis Project: Time-Series Analysis of Paediatric Sepsis at BC Children's Hospital in Relation to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Srinivas Murthy, Principal Investigator

The purpose of this retrospective observational cohort study is to determine whether there has been a change in the patterns of sepsis cases pre- and post-COVID-19 pandemic. Provincial COVID-19 restrictions and alterations to social behaviours and hygiene practices may have contributed to a decrease in incidence of paediatric sepsis cases, and changes to the severity and source of infection.

The findings of this study may suggest that the hygiene practices and recommendations employed during the COVID-19 pandemic may be used as preventative measures for infection leading to sepsis.

Contact: Srinivas Murthy

COVID-19 Immunological Investigation: Quality, Quantity and Kinetics of Antibody and Cell-Mediated Responses

Danuta Skowronski, Principal Investigator

To validate SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays in development and to evaluate the type, quantity, quality and kinetics of the immune response. To collect blood from confirmed COVID-19 cases to enable validation of antibody assays, guide timing of specimen collection for serological diagnosis and to support future investigation and fuller understanding of the immune response more generally to COVID-19, other coronaviruses and emerging or re-emerging respiratory pathogens.

COVID Epi Study

Manish Sadarangani, Principal Investigator

6,000 individuals under the age of 25 will be tested from the community for COVID-19 by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antibody (Ab) tests.

For more information: The Vaccine Evaluation Center

COVID Treatment Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Manish Sadarangani, Principal Investigator

Pharmacological treatment for Coronavirus disease-19: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

For more information: The Vaccine Evaluation Center

Tracking the Spread of COVID-19

Danuta Skowronski, Principal Investigator

The development of robust models of COVID-19 spread in BC that can be used on an ongoing basis to inform public health decisions in our province. This modeling work, which will provide key data such as informing where services will be needed in advance of problematic need, is essential to fulsome contingency planning for BC health services. In order to meet these needs, a technical modeling team will be formed, led by BC Centre for Disease Control Data and Analytic Services, in collaboration with academic and public health partners.

COVID-19 in the Immune Compromised Child

Kelly Brown, Principal Investigator

Parents of children treated with immune suppressive drug for a variety of rheumatic conditions are concerned if their child is at higher risk of developing severe complications from COVID19 infection. We would like to screen the patient population at BCCH Outpatient Rheumatology clinic for evidence of COVID19 infection in pediatric patients and their families. Samples could also be used to validate serologic testing of COVID19 infection. 

Health Care Delivery & Policy


Ashley Roberts, Principal Investigator

SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in children admitted to Canadian Hospitals: Understanding clinical spectrum and severity. A Paediatric Investigators Collaborative Network on Infections in Canada (PICNIC) study.

Retrospective chart review of all pediatric patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, looking at the clinical spectrum of the disease and outcomes.

Contact: Bahaa Abu Raya

Predicting Severe Pneumonia in Children: A Global Study of the Pediatric Emergency Research Network

Quynh Doan, Principal Investigator

Purpose Community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) is one of the most common serious childhood infections and a frequent and costly cause of Emergency Department (ED) visits and hospitalizations. However, there is a lack of an evidence-based clinical prediction rule for assessing CAP severity in children. The purpose of this study is to develop accurate, objective models of prognosis in pediatric CAP using a global cohort of pediatric emergency departments.

Hypothesis The primary hypotheses are: (1) a history of previous pneumonia, retractions on examination, tachypnea, and hypoxia at presentation will be associated with severe outcomes, and (2) historical and physical examination factors will be able to differentiate between patients with low, moderate, or high disease severity in pediatric CAP.

The sub-primary hypothesis is: (1) predictors of disease severity for pediatric COVID-19 will be similar to those for pediatric CAP.

For more information: Doan Lab Research Program

Contact: Karly Stillwell

Impact of COVID-19 and Self-Isolation on Patient Burden, Acuity and Severity in Pediatric Emergency Departments: A Multicenter Study

Neil Desai, Principal Investigator

Contact: Neil Desai

Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Youth Who Live With Chronic Pain

Tim Oberlander, Principal Investigator

Chronic pain (CP) impacts 1 in 5 Canadian youth. Youth with CP have higher levels of anxiety and depression than peers without pain, and more limitations in activities of daily life. Our team previously revealed that "access to pain care" is a top priority for youth with CP and their families. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has only made access to care more difficult. CP clinics can no longer see patients in person and only some can offer virtual care. In the meantime, youth have also lost access to counselors and social workers due to school closures and physical distancing rules have likely made their anxiety, social isolation, and stress even worse. The drastic changes caused by the pandemic offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance to improve access to CP care both now and in the future. "Stepped care" is a promising way to do this.

A good thing about stepped care is that it personalizes treatment based on how bad a person's symptoms are. Similar to a ladder, a person may start with one type of care and then "step up" or "step down" to more or less intense care depending on need. We want to hear directly from youth, families, and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the CP community about the impacts of COVID-19. We will then create a "stepped care" program called the Kids Pain Portal. This online Portal will increase rapid access to pain care and help make sure youth get the right treatment at the right time.

Contact: Tim Oberlander

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Pediatric Utilization of Canadian Emergency Departments

Neil Desai, Principal Investigator

The impact of COVID-19 on pediatric emergency health services utilization is not known. We aim to quantify and characterize the use of EDs by children and their families. Understanding and forecasting utilization of pediatric emergency services during a pandemic is critical to ED preparedness. Preparedness encapsulates resource planning, including physician, nurse, and allied healthcare staffing, reallocation of workforce, PPE distribution , and stocking of lifesaving equipment. The COVID pandemic is unprecedented in recent years. Public perceptions and actions are shaped by new influences that were not present during previous similar events.

The effect of these influences on risk perception and presentation to the pediatric emergency department are unknown. As the COVID pandemic continues to evolve, we will collect data on pediatric emergency department utilization throughout Canada, in the periods before, during, and after the COVID pandemic. Metrics will describe the volume, acuity, and disposition of pediatric ED visits. We will describe these metrics for all pediatric patients arriving to both pediatric and general EDs, for patients with COVID-confirmed and -possible illness, and those presenting with specific categories of illness. Our objective is to describe patterns of pediatric service utilization in Canadian emergency departments in the time surrounding and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact: Neil Desai

Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Practice

Kishore Mulpuri, Principal Investigator

The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the impacts of Coronoavirus (COVID-19) on pediatric orthopaedic practice across the globe. This study will involve an international online survey of pediatric orthopaedic surgeons. Data will be collected anonymously and/or be de-identified.

Contact: Marissa Gibbard

Safety and Perception of Health Care Workers in a COVID-19 Outbreak

Srinivas Murthy, Principal Investigator

What Families Think and Do: A Survey for Families Visiting the Pediatric Emergency Department

Ran Goldman, Principal Investigator

The objective of this study is to understand what families think and do in regards to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) illness in Global communities. Parents arriving to emergency departments all around Canada, United States, Australia, Switzerland, Israel, Japan and Spain are responding to the same survey in regards to their concerns, thoughts and actions during COVID-19 with their children. Understanding parents considerations and actions will help respond to this pandemic and future needs.

Tracking Pediatric Emergency Department Visits During a Pandemic

Ran Goldman, Principal Investigator

It is important to understand health-services seeking behaviors in times of a pandemic. The balancing act of perceptions about maintaining social distancing and during a pandemic versus the need to visit a health care provider when most physicians' offices are closed, may lead families to choose how they care for their sick children. We plan to review Pediatric Emergency data,  to determine what families are doing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will also determine if children arriving to emergency are sicker than in the past, possibly representing delay in care due to the pandemic.

Contact: Ran Goldman

BCCHR COVID-19 Survey: Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Research at BC Children's Hospital Research Institute

Kishore Mulpuri, Principal Investigator

The primary purpose of this survey study is to investigate the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on research activities, training, personnel, and funding at the BC Children's Hospital Research Institute (BCCHR).


Ian Pike, Principal Investigator

The study aims to understand whether the COVID-19 situation has affected parent/caregiver attitudes and behaviours with respect to seeking ER/hospital treatment for a child's injury. Are parents/caregivers hesitant to attend the ER/hospital for fear of contracting COVID-19? Have parents/caregivers delayed in attending ER/hospital for treatment compared to non-COVID-19 period?

Social Impacts

Restricted Family Presence in the PICU During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Impact of Restricted Visitation Policies in the COVID-19 Pandemic on Parents of Critically Ill Children

Srinivas Murthy, Principal Investigator

Contact: Kelly Sandhu

How Has Covid-19 Affected Tertiary NICU Staff in Canada?

Susan Albersheim, Principal Investigator