The better we can understand how a virus like COVID-19 works, the more likely we are to get through it with as few complications as possible.

Today, air travel means diseases like COVID-19 can travel around the world in less than a day. Dr. Michael Libman, MI4 investigator and head of the McGill Centre for Tropical Diseases recently received $1 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to optimize the screening process for COVID-19.

With the support of the McGill-led GeoSentinel network, which monitors travel-related illnesses in thousands of travelers, Dr. Libman and his team will screen returning travelers and track the spread of COVID-19 in the many countries around the world that lack the medical infrastructure to diagnose coronavirus infections. As part of this project, they’ll be screening travellers from all countries for COVID-19 at 68 network-affiliated medical clinics specialized in tropical diseases, including the Tropical Diseases Clinic at the MUHC’s Glen site.

The study will answer three big questions around COVID-19 today:

  • First: The screening of all travellers, regardless of destination country or symptoms. This will help shed some light on “dark zones”: countries where testing for COVID-19 hasn’t been optimal.
  • Second: Investigating possible blood tests that may be able to predict the course the illness will take in the patient should they test positive: will they recover quickly, or should they stay in hospital for monitoring?
  • Third: This part of the study, which will come later, will focus on the pre-travel clinics. The hope is to recruit people before they embark on their travels so that researchers can get a full picture of their activities. Once they return we will be able to assess the risk each person has of contracting COVID-19.

The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) brings together over 250 researchers to create one of the largest collaborative and cross-functional teams working to curb infectious and immune threats to human health.

Tackling the COVID-19 outbreak is the just one of the essential research projects on infection and immunity that you can help accelerate by supporting MI4.

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