Study Description

Organ transplant recipients have an increased risk to severe COVID-19 infections and complications. The goal of the PREVenT-COVID study is to examine the immunogenicity and safety of COVID-19 vaccines in both solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplants. This ongoing national study involves nine transplant centres connected across four  provinces.

This project is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), through the Vaccine Surveillance Reference group and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF). Our lead investigator, Dr. Deepali Kumar, is a transplant infectious diseases physician at the Ajmera Transplant Center apart of the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto. This study is also co-led by numerous investigators from Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta. With the collaborative efforts of CDTRP, this study brings together both adult and pediatric solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients from across the nation.

Overall goals of the study
  • Assess the immunogenicity and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, by evaluating IgG antibody response levels against the receptor binding domain (anti-RBD) of the COVID-19 spike protein. Further immunological responses such as neutralizing antibodies and CD4+ and CD8+ T cell mediated immunity are also being evaluated.

  • Develop a national safety surveillance system of COVID-19 vaccination amongst transplant recipients.

  • Coordinate the efforts of national and provincial organizations involved in public health and vaccination research to share current and emerging data.

  • Build a lasting knowledge transfer platform to rapidly disseminate the research results to patient partners and to public health agencies.

Starting in April 2021, patients with either kidney, liver, lung, heart, pancreas, islet cell, and/or stem cell transplants had been enrolled into the PREVenT-COVID study across the nine collaborating transplant centres in Canada.

To assess immunogenicity, blood samples were collected at several time-points, aiming to capture the tolerance of COVID-19 by measuring the production of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies (anti-RBD) within the blood. It takes approximately two weeks for an antibody response to become systemic, thus, to measure anti-RBD antibodies after vaccination, blood collection occurred pre-1st dose, and 3-6 weeks post each vaccine hereafter. This timeline provides both short-term and long-term antibody responses after vaccination, as the final blood collections will coincide with the 6- and 12-month timeline after initial vaccination. Following this scheduling, blood collection from healthy, non-transplant recipient controls will be collected as well to allow for a relative comparison to our transplant cohort. From these blood samples, both serum and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) will be isolated for more granular studies.

Previous studies have shown that transplant recipients produce insufficient antibody responses against COVID-19, regardless of vaccination. To assess the reasons behind this, variables such as age, sex, time since transplant, vaccine intervals, immunosuppressant regimes, chronic kidney disease and other co-morbidities, will be analyzed and correlated to antibody response.

With approximately 550 transplant recipients enrolled, including both solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell recipients, in adults and pediatrics; PREVenT-COVID is extremely unique and will provide a breadth of new knowledge to the ODT community.
Knowledge Translation (KT) Strategy

Results of this study will be shared publicly when possible, through its Knowledge Translation whose goals are to:

  1. Promote evidence informed policy action for COVID-19 vaccine for transplant patients;
  2. Engage and inform transplant patients & their families about their safety and immune system response to the COVID-19 vaccines.

This will be done by various channels of communication through CDTRP’s patient, family and donor partners, social media, mass media, scientific publications, written documents, conferences, and local seminar series.

List of Collaborators and their Affiliated Sites

(in alphabetical order | Updated: April 27, 2022)

Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CDTRP)

  • Lori West – Principal Investigator
  • Patricia Gongal – Executive Director
  • Demitra Yotis – Clinical Data Coordinator
  • Kristian Stephens – Knowledge Translation Coordinator

Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM)

  • Marie-Josée Hébert – Principal Investigator
  • Héloïse Cardinal – Principal Investigator
  • Zineb Khrifi – Clinical Coordinator
  • Julie Turgeon – Clinical Coordinator

Dalhousie University

  • Karina Top – Principal Investigator


  • Mélanie Dieudé – Principal Investigator
  • Marc Cloutier – Scientist
  • Renée Bazin – Scientist
  • Éric Ducas – Research Professional
  • Sahra Fonseca – Research Professional
  • Marie-Josée Fournier – Research Professional
  • Patricia Landry – Research Professional
  • Nathalie Dussault – Research Professional
  • Audrey Laforce-Lavoie – Research Professional

Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR)

  • Jean-Sébastien Delisle – Principal Investigator
  • Cédric Carli – Sample Processing
  • Gabrielle Boudreau – Sample Processing
  • Céline Nkoué – Research Coordinator
  • Imran Ahmad – Local co-investigators
  • Olivier Veilleux – Local co-investigators
  • Jean Roy – Local co-investigators

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

  • Shaun Morris – Principal Investigator
  • Upton Allen – Principal Investigator
  • Chia Wei Teoh – Principal Investigator
  • Joerg Krueger – BMT recruitment

Institut de cardiologie de Montréal (ICM)

  • Normand Racine – Principal Investigator
  • Maryse Desjardins – Clinical Coordinator
  • Hélène Brown – Clinical Coordinator
  • Johanne Doiron – Administrative Agent

Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)

  • Gaston DeSerres – Principal Investigator

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC)

  • Cadence Baker – Research Manager
  • Sarah Shalhoub – Principal Investigator
  • Grant Luke – Research Assistant

Université Laval

  • Christopher Lemieux – Principal Investigator
  • Sacha De Serres – Principal Investigator
  • France Samson – Clinical Coordinator
  • Margarita Becerra Perez – Research Coordinator
  • Melanie Bradley – Research Coordinator

University Health Network (UHN)

  • Deepali Kumar – Lead Investigator
  • Atul Humar – Principal Investigator
  • Victor Ferreira – Principal Investigator
  • Sasan Hosseini-Moghaddam – Principal Investigator
  • Natalia Pinzon – Clinical Coordinator
  • Matthew Ierullo – Research Technician

University of Alberta (UofA)

  • Dima Kabbani – Principal Investigator
  • Kimberly Robertson – Clinical Coordinator
  • Heather Mangan – Clinical Coordinator
  • Varalika Tyagi – Undergraduate Student

University of Alberta (UofA) | Pediatrics

  • Catherine Burton – Principal Investigator
  • Sneha Suresh – Principal Investigator
  • Joan Robinson – Principal Investigator
  • Cheri Robert – Clinical Coordinator

University of British Columbia (UBC)

  • Sara Belga – Principal Investigator
  • Megan Levings – Principal Investigator
  • Gale Ladua – Clinical Coordinator

University of British Columbia (UBC) | Pediatrics

  • Hana Mitchell – Principal Investigator
  • Candice Weidman – Clinical Coordinator
  • Tom Blydt-Hansen – Principal Investigator
  • Manish Sadarangani – Principal Investigator
  • Amanda Li – BMT recruitment
  • Monica Ho – Clinical Coordinator

Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCH)

  • Allison Mah – Principal Investigator