Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday announced to allot additional 1.1 billion country’s dollars (about US $782 million) for national medical research against the COVID-19.
During a news briefing, Trudeau said, “The better we understand this virus, its spread and its impact on different people, the better we can fight it and eventually defeat it”.
The fund is divided into three components: 115 million Canadian dollars (about US $81 million) for research into vaccines and treatments being developed in hospitals and universities; 662 million Canadian dollars (US $472 million) for clinical trials in Canada and 350 million Canadian dollars (US $248 million) to expand national testing and modelling for COVID-19.
The additional fund is meant to support previous efforts by the Trudeau government to marshal Canada’s medical community in the battle against COVID-19.
At the news conference, Trudeau also announced the creation of a new COVID-19 immunity task force focused on serology testing to determine if someone has been exposed to the virus already.
The COVID-19 immunity task force will include a series of Canada’s top doctors and will focus on blood testing to track and understand immunity to the novel coronavirus.
The prime minister said that testing is key to the fight against COVID-19 and 20,000 tests are carried out in Canada every day.
“Testing must increase even further before we can reopen and restart our normal activities as a country”, he added.
“We know it may be a long while before a vaccine. There are discussions around treatments for COVID-19 that might work as well as a vaccine,” he said.
Since mid-March, more than 4 million Canadians have applied for financial assistance, but there were still many who have trouble making ends meet and did not qualify for the benefit programs created so far.
Trudeau confirmed planned changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, including greater flexibility for employers to have access to the program.
Business groups complained that the initial criteria for the wage subsidy, including the requirement that a business claiming the subsidy see its revenue decline by 30 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year, would exclude many businesses, including new, growing or seasonal companies.
Trudeau also announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program aimed at helping young people get work.
The changes include a boost to the wage subsidy up to 100 per cent and an extension of the end date for employment to February 28, 2021 and the inclusion of part-time jobs.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were more than 41,752 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country and 2,141 deaths.
Meanwhile, the United States which is the worst-hit country in the world, saw a record number of deaths in 24 hours.
Around 3,100 people have succumbed to novel coronavirus in the US in 24 hours, while the death toll in the country is past 50,000-mark. The global toll has crossed 1,90,000.