Focus on COVID-19 has disrupted funding for regular health research, scientists fear

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Canada’s health-research granting agency has postponed its usual funding competition due to COVID-19, sparking concern the lack of money could disrupt work on cures that aren’t related to the pandemic.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) put off its regular $275-million competition this spring to focus on delivering federal grants related to the novel coronavirus.

Researchers rely on that funding, and Dr. Tarik Moroy, president of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences, said the delay is likely to disrupt vital work on other health conditions.

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He told the House of Commons health committee last week that Canada is the only country that had a major national health research funding agency cancel its grants during the crisis.

He acknowledged that Canada was quick to mobilize funds for research related to COVID-19, but worries about the long-term impacts for research into cancer, diabetes and other conditions.

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“We worry that this is at the expense of other health research that then will still be necessary after the pandemic is over,” Moroy told the committee.

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The granting agency says delaying the competition was a difficult decision,

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