$ 173 million investment for Canadian COVID-19 vaccine technologies
Prime Minister announces funding to advance the development of Canadian COVID-19 vaccine technologies.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an investment of up to $173 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF por sus siglas en ingles) in Quebec City-based Medicago to support Canada’s response to COVID-19 and future preparedness. The project, valued at a total of $428 million, will advance Medicago’s virus-like particle vaccine, developed on the company’s unique plant-based production platform, through clinical trials. It will also establish a large-scale vaccine and antibody production facility to increase Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.
The government has signed an agreement with Medicago to secure up to 76 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, enough to vaccinate 38 million people. This is the first domestically developed vaccine candidate the Government of Canada has secured.
The government will also invest up to $18.2 million in Vancouver-based biotechnology company Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI) through the SIF. This investment will support a $24.27-million project to help advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate through pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. The government is also providing up to $23.2 million in funding through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program to advance six COVID-19 vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trials.
The Government of Canada has now signed agreements with Medicago, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna. Agreements signed to date will secure access to up to 358 million doses of their different COVID-19 vaccine candidates. At this time, there are three vaccine candidates currently under review and many others in clinical trials and in development.
However, there are no vaccines authorized for the prevention of COVID-19. All vaccine candidates must go through pre-clinical and clinical trials. Health Canada will continue to review evidence of safety, efficacy, and manufacturing quality for each vaccine candidate as it becomes available to decide whether the product will be approved for use in Canada.
Full payments to drug companies are contingent on the vaccines passing clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval. All contracts the Government of Canada signs with vaccine developers contain off-ramps and exit provisions, should they be required.
The SIF contributions to Medicago and PNI announced today will help create and maintain approximately 440 full-time jobs.
The Plan to Mobilize Science also includes support for the Emerging Infectious Diseases Modelling initiative, which will strengthen the Government of Canada’s ability to manage pandemic threats. The initiative leverages the wealth of multidisciplinary expertise within academic institutions to build capacity and improve the coordination of the infectious diseases modelling community across Canada.