Prime Minister Trudeau announced measures that will return vaccine production capacity to Canada—both COVID vaccine and other vaccines..
The government signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax that enables the government to produce the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine at the National Research Council’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal, once both the vaccine candidate and the facility receive Health Canada approvals. Novavax recently initiated the rolling submission process for regulatory approval to Health Canada. The National Research Council’s new Biologics Manufacturing Centre at its Royalmount site in Montréal received a $126 million investment in August 2020. Once built, the new centre will be capable of large-quantity, end-to-end production of vaccines – approximately 24 million made-in-Canada doses per year – depending on the vaccine candidate. Construction remains on schedule and is anticipated to be completed in July 2021. The ultimate timeline for production at the facility depends on reaching a full production agreement with an approved vaccine producer and Health Canada approval of the manufacturing process for the specific product.
The Government of Canada currently has an agreement with Novavax to purchase up to 76 million doses of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
With a federal grant of Up to $25.1 million to Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI), PNI will build a $50.2 million biomanufacturing centre to produce vaccines and therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as infectious diseases, rare diseases, cancer and other areas of unmet need. Once the l biomanufacturing centre is completed, targeted for March 2023, PNI will have the capacity to produce up to 240 million doses of its self-amplifying ribonucleic acid (RNA) COVID‑19 vaccine every year.
None of these developments will be on stream soon enough to alter the government’s promise to have all Canadians vaccinated by the end of September, but Prime Minister Trudeau remained confident that the timeline will still be met using imported vaccine.
The PM told reporters that he had received assurances from the EU that the possible embargo on vaccine exports that was announced over the weekend will not affect Canada’s schedule.
The government has also approved up to $14 million to Edesa Biotech Inc. (Edesa), a biopharmaceutical company based in Markham, to advance work on a monoclonal antibody therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is the leading cause of COVID-19 deaths.
There is also progress on the biomanufacturing facilities under construction in Quebec and Saskatchewan.
The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization received federal contributions of $46 million in 2020 to help strengthen its COVID-19 research and vaccine development as well as complete the construction of its pilot scale manufacturing facility to good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards. The construction of the GMP facility is on track to be completed by the end of 2021. This facility will be able to produce up to 40 million doses annually depending on the production efficiency of specific vaccines.