The federal government says it’s spending $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that $173 million would go to Quebec-based Medicago, while Vancouver’s Precision NanoSystems would receive $18.2 million for development and testing.
“This is about securing potential vaccines for Canadians while supporting good jobs in research,” he told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
The deal with Medicago includes up to 76 million doses of its vaccine candidate, as well as funds to set up a production facility in Quebec City.
A further $23 million will go toward the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.
To date, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion to secure doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus. Deals have been struck with half a dozen pharmaceutical giants, and Canada is also part of an international vaccine alliance through COVAX.
“Canada has an excellent portfolio of vaccine potential, but we also know, nobody’s got that vaccine yet,” Trudeau said.
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Trudeau said the “reasonable expectation” is that vaccines could arrive sometime in the new year, but initially there will be smaller amounts available and the shots would be going to priority groups first.
He stressed that no vaccine would be available until Health Canada officials are certain the immunization is safe.
Trudeau’s announcement came after Canada posted a record increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with nearly 2,800 people newly diagnosed with the illness.
“We have to get these numbers down,” Trudeau said. “This is serious and everybody must do their part.”
In response to a Radio-Canada report that found Canada could be months behind countries such as the United States on receiving COVID-19 vaccines, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that the government was “strategically positioning” Canadians to have access.
“With agreements in place for seven leading vaccine candidates, for one of the most diverse COVID-19 vaccine candidate portfolios in the world, Canada is very well placed,” read a statement from Anand.
Anand’s statement also said that anticipated delivery dates start as early as the first quarter of 2021, but are dependent on the results of the clinical trials, as well as on Health Canada approval.
“However, let me be clear, we are being very aggressive in our negotiations regarding delivery dates, with the ultimate priority of making sure that Canadians have access to safe, proven and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are ready.”
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