USask’s Vido-InterVac nearing human clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine

File / Global News

The University of Saskatchewan’s vaccine research team could start clinical trials in December or January.

VIDO-Intervac is in the final stages before the COVID-19 vaccine they are developing will be tested on people. After toxicology tests, Health Canada will need to approve the first two phases of clinical trials to ensure it is safe.

“They’re also looking at some proof that the vaccine’s going to work,” said Dr. Paul Hodgson, VIDO-InterVac associate director of business development.

VIDO-InterVac hasn’t just been busy developing a vaccine, it’s also working with over 80 different groups worldwide on other vaccines.

American companies Moderna and Pfizer have made quick progress on vaccines, already completing human clinical trials.

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Hodgson couldn’t tell Global News if VIDO-InterVac worked with these companies specifically, but said the vaccines are different than the one being developed at the university or a typical influenza vaccine.

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“They are mRNA so it’s a nucleic acid-based technology. It’s fantastic and incredibly exciting, but these technologies have never been commercially available in humans before,” Hodgson said about the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

“This virus hasn’t even been known for a year yet and the fact we have vaccines that are in phase three clinical trials is absolutely mind-numbing.”

Click to play video: 'VIDO-InterVac update on COVID-19 antiviral funding, vaccine research'
VIDO-InterVac update on COVID-19 antiviral funding, vaccine research

He adds there are some things not known with the new types of vaccines, such as duration of immunity, how many doses will be required and what temperature it needs to be stored at.

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“The more complicated the storage process is, the more challenging that developing nations are going to have actually the vaccine available,” Hodgson said.

VIDO-InterVac began research on COVID-19 in early January, starting the day the World Health Organization (WHO) announced there was a new disease spreading in China. It has previously developed vaccines for other coronavirus infections like SARS.

This vaccine along with others being developed around the world has been developed quicker than past vaccines, due to the large impact on society. Hodgson said progress has been made with funding from the government.

He said the VIDO-InterVac vaccine wouldn’t be manufactured until fall or winter 2021.


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