Canada signs deal to domestically produce COVID-19 vaccines

By: Vincenzo Morello
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government and Novavax have a memorandum of understanding that will allow the government to produce the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine at a facility in Montreal.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Trudeau said that the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine will be produced at the National Research Council of Canada’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montreal, which is currently under construction.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our top priority has been the health and safety of all Canadians,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“Today, we are investing in our biomanufacturing capacity so that we have the made-in-Canada vaccines and treatments we need to protect Canadians, now and in the future, and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”
Trudeau said that the biomanufacturing facility will be capable of producing two million vaccine doses per month once work on the facility is complete, which is expected to be done by July 2021.
The facility and vaccine candidate also need to be approved by Health Canada. Novavax had submitted their vaccine to Health Canada for approval on Friday.
“This is a major step forward to get vaccines made in Canada, for Canadians,” Trudeau said.
In January, Novavax and the Canadian government finalized an agreement to supply up to 76 million doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.
According to a press release from Novavax, Canada already committed to purchase 52 million doses of the vaccine with the option for an additional 24 million doses.
Last Friday, Novavax submitted an application to Health Canada for a rolling review of its vaccine–a process that allows for faster-than-usual approval once final results from clinical trials are complete.
Novavax said that its protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate has an efficacy of 89.3 per cent in its phase three clinical trial that was conducted in the United Kingdom.
The study assessed the efficacy of the vaccine during a time with high transmission and with the new variant of the virus that was first identified in the U.K.
Trudeau also announced additional support to vaccine, therapeutic and manufacturing projects in the country.
The federal government is investing $25.1 million to support Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI), a Vancouver based biotechnology company, that is building a $50.2 million biomanufacturing centre to produce vaccines and therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of infectious and rare diseases, and cancer.
The target date for completing construction on the biomanufacturing facility is March 2023. Once it is complete, PNI will be able to produce 240 million doses of its own self-amplifying ribonucleic acid (RNA) COVID-19 vaccine every year.