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Where is Canada investing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine?


March 24, 2020
By Talent Canada Staff

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On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is investing $192 million to help find and manufacture a vaccine for COVID-19.

Canada is home to some of the most skilled and brightest researchers in the world, who are working hard to develop countermeasures that will protect the health and safety of Canadians and support international efforts to fight this pandemic,” said Trudeau. “We are all in this together, and need to be doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The cash is being spread out among various organizations.

AbCellera

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AbCellera, a Vancouver-based biotech company that has built the world’s leading technology for antibody discovery, is at the forefront of developing antibody-based drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19. AbCellera’s technology is being used to search blood samples of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to find naturally-produced antibodies that can be used for treatment and prevention.

AbCellera was the first company in North America to receive a sample from a convalescent patient, and within days identified over 500 human antibodies that are candidates for development as a treatment. The company has partnered with global biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to rapidly manufacture and distribute a treatment with the goal of begining clinical trials in July 2020.

Medicago

Medicago, a Quebec City-based company with 20 years of experience in plant-based vaccines and therapeutics,  has identified a viable plant-based vaccine candidate currently at the pre-clinical testing phase. Funding will allow Medicago to rapidly move forward on clinical trials and then quickly shift to scaling up production for pandemic response.

University of Saskatchewan

Funding for the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), one of the largest and most advanced infectious disease research facilities in the world. With $11 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, VIDO-InterVac will be able to strengthen its existing expertise in coronavirus research and to help develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

An additional $12 million from Western Economic Diversification’s Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation program will help VIDO-InterVac expand its bio-manufacturing capacity to support clinical trials.

National Research Council of Canada

Funding of $15 million for the National Research Council of Canada to upgrade its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal to develop, test and scale-up promising vaccine candidates to be ready for industrial production. This will involve certifying the facility for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) quality assurance to ensure that their human pharmaceuticals and biologics, including vaccines, are consistently produced and controlled. This certification will support a more effective roll-out and production of vaccines, and help ensure that any vaccines produced by the facility can be made available to Canadians and people around the world more quickly.

Blue Dot

Support for BlueDot, a Toronto-based digital health firm, with a first-of-its-kind global early warning technology for infectious diseases. The company was one of the first in the world to identify the spread of COVID-19. The Government of Canada, through the Public Health Agency of Canada, will use its disease analytics platform to support modelling and monitoring of the spread of COVID 19, and to inform government decision-making as the situation evolves.