Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Ontario’s overly cautious approach to COVID-19 testing is endangering lives and hindering efforts to rein in soaring infections that are ravaging long-term care facilities, filling ICU beds and lurking silently in communities, say critics alarmed by the province’s admission that labs can handle four times the number of tests they receive. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Ontario’s overly cautious approach to COVID-19 testing is endangering lives and hindering efforts to rein in soaring infections that are ravaging long-term care facilities, filling ICU beds and lurking silently in communities, say critics alarmed by the province’s admission that labs can handle four times the number of tests they receive. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Feds pour $1.1B into COVID-19 vaccine development, tracking of cases

Smaller amounts will go to tracking and identifying different strains of the virus

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will spend more than $1 billion to help develop, test and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as to determine how widely the virus has spread through Canada.

The cash announced today is on top of $275 million in research funding the Liberals announced in March at the outset of the pandemic.

Most of the new money is aimed at funding vaccine development and clinical trials, including $600 million over two years through a federal innovation fund that the government says could help the country’s biomanufacturing sector.

Smaller amounts will go to tracking and identifying different strains of the virus and the different health impacts it has had on different patients.

READ MORE: B.C. records 71 new COVID-19 cases, 3 more deaths

Trudeau also says the government will create a task force of public health experts that includes Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. David Naylor, who has advised Liberal and Conservative governments on health and science issues.

The task force will be asked to oversee country-wide blood test surveys to get a better handle on potential immunity and vulnerabilities in Canada.

The Canadian Press

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