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SARS–CoV–2 Study for Eased Restrictions in British Columbia (SAfER BC)

  • Project Leaders: Simon Pimstone, Josef Penninger, Mel Krajden, Tania Bubela
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1215596
  • Program/Competition: Emerging Issues
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2020
  • Status: Active

The scale of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has required our global community to take extraordinary measures. Limiting individual contact through physical distancing has curbed transmission, but also led to significant economic disruption. Since limitations this strict are not sustainable for the duration of vaccine development, alternate measures need to be deployed to enable society to restart responsibly, with guidelines informed by epidemiological modeling, responsible testing, good political judgement, and integrated data connecting viral spread to clinical risk factors and workplace behaviors.  

The SARS‐CoV‐2 Study for Eased Restrictions in British Columbia (SAfER BC) is a large-scale longitudinal cohort study designed to provide the essential data we are missing on long-term transmission dynamics, potential predictors, immunity and infectivity, and the challenges of deploying laboratory tests in the real world. This study will track and collect data for 1500 consented, volunteer employees across different life sciences sector business models and post-secondary academic institutions. The ongoing results will support the goal of establishing and implementing workplace best practices for relaxing restrictions while limiting SARS-CoV-2 infection and managing positive cases. The breadth of data collected on infectivity, immunity, mental health, contact history, clinical symptoms, and productivity will enable a powerful integrated data analysis approach to identify trends and predictive markers useful for improving workplace management and optimizing provincial readiness for this and future pandemics. 

SAfER BC also represents a multi-organization private/public partnership between industry leaders, post-secondary institutions, public health, and government, all of whom have critical contributions to make towards meeting the challenges around workplace guidelines. The study will be co-led by Dr. Simon Pimstone (University of British Columbia, Xenon Pharmaceuticals), Dr. Mel Krajden (BC Centre for Disease Control), Dr. Tania Bubela (Simon Fraser University), and Dr. Josef Penninger (University of British Columbia). The study will be managed by Emmes, an international Contract Research Organization with deep experience in public health, and supported with testing and tracing partnerships with diagnostics company LifeLabs and app developer Thrive Health, creator of BC’s current COVID-19 self-assessment tool (