A multidisciplinary team of 15 researchers and clinicians has been assembled by Canada’s Chief Science Advisor Mona Nemer to provide advice on developing scientific issues related to COVID-19. The Panel’s recommendations will inform public policy decisions at the highest level of government. Nemer has been consulting regularly with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and with national science and technology advisors from the G7 and other countries, she said during a special edition of Radio-Canada’s science news program Découverte on March 15.
The expertise of the COVID-19 Expert Panel members, who are based at universities, hospitals and health agencies across Canada, spans disease modelling, risk and behavioural sciences, and biomedical and clinical sciences. The Panel’s first meeting took place on March 10 to discuss risk perception, diagnostic and clinical research, as well as disease modelling. The same week, panel member Caroline Colijn, a professor of mathematics at Simon Fraser University and Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health, posted a research article suggesting transmission of COVID-19 by pre-symptomatic individuals is contributing to the pandemic. Another member, Dr. Samira Mubareka, a clinician-scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, was part of a team that succeeded at isolating the novel coronavirus, making it possible to study the virus, develop new diagnostics and test new treatment approaches.
In addition to providing and coordinating expert advice on COVID-19, Nemer joined her counterparts in a dozen other countries in issuing a call for open access to COVID-19 publications. They urged publishers to voluntarily agree to make coronavirus-related publications—and the data supporting them—immediately accessible to researchers everywhere.