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Canada needs a proactive pandemic innovation strategy

•Knowing that we will face pandemic risks from well-understood viral families, such as influenza and coronavirus, we could have proactively invented anti-viral drugs that prevent and treat the diseases they cause. Yet no one invested in these efforts. •We are not waiting for others to give us a green light to move ahead: catalyzed by scientific leadership and seed investment from the University of North Carolina and the SGC in 2019, we are creating an international network of interlocked non-profits, VIMI (Viral Interruption Medicines Initiative) in Canada and READDI (Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Discovery Initiative) internationally.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, pictured Jan. 28, 2020, on the Hill, recently applauded Ontario researchers for not only rapidly isolating the COVID-19 virus but sharing it openly with the world. He tweeted: 'Open science is key to global efforts to treat and prevent the spread of COVID-19.' The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

The COVID-19 crisis points to a hole in Canada’s pandemic preparedness. In the wake of the 2003 SARS crisis, Canada created the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to strengthen and coordinate responses to public health threats. PHAC has exercised national leadership to safeguard Canadians during COVID-19. But responsiveness is not enough. For research and development, Canada needs a proactive pandemic innovation strategy in anticipation of pandemics.

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Hill reporters to push for return to pre-pandemic scrums as restrictions ease

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