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City of Saskatoon signals support for new $65M VIDO vaccine lab

Click to play video: 'City of Saskatoon signals support for new $65M VIDO vaccine lab' City of Saskatoon signals support for new $65M VIDO vaccine lab
WATCH: A Saskatoon city committee has voted to support a new multi-million dollar vaccine lab that could make Canada — and Saskatoon — a world leader in vaccines – Feb 16, 2021

A City of Saskatoon committee voted unanimously to support a new research facility for VIDO-InterVac.

The motion, put forward by Coun. Cynthia Block during Tuesday’s governance and priority committee, commits $250,000 to the $65 million project —- if the federal and provincial governments pitch in the remainder.

A lab representative said the funding, combined with its own COVID-19 vaccine and manufacturing facility, which is currently under construction, would make VIDO a world leader in vaccine creation.

Read more: Clinical trials start for VIDO’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate

He also said VIDO would have been able to keep pace with pharmaceutical giants Pfizer-BioNtech and Oxford-AstraZeneca if the new structure had existed before the pandemic began.

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“I think there is no question that, if the manufacturing facility had been in place, [VIDO director Dr. Volker Gerdts] states that we believe we could have been in clinical trials six months ago,” Paul Hodgson told the committee.

He said a vote in favour of the proposal would be a strong signal to the federal government that it should choose VIDO to improve the country’s vaccine-creating capacity.

Hodgson said the University of Saskatchewan facility would become a world leader in vaccine distribution if it receives the federal money — for which other labs around the country are competing.

Read more: VIDO-InterVac vaccine in clinical trials, production facility operational next year

He added VIDO has submitted a formal request to the federal government.

Hodgson said the new facility would be able to produce between 20 and 40 million doses of vaccine per year, depending on the complexities of the vaccine, that it could make several different vaccines at one time and improve the lab’s level-three containment facility to level four, the highest possible.

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In response to a question from Coun. Randy Donauer, Hodgson said the facility could potentially help with the production of the lab’s own COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently in clinical trials, but would certainly help developing treatments for future illness.

USask president Peter Stoicheff said the world didn’t listen closely enough to the lessons learned during the SARS outbreak.

“It’s a mistake we’ve now learned we can’t repeat,” he said.

VIDO’s vaccine will likely be ready by the end of the year or early 2022. The new research facility would be completed at the end of 2021 as well.

The city funding will be allocated during 2022-23 budget deliberations.

Click to play video: 'Vaccine trial at VIDO-InterVac underway' Vaccine trial at VIDO-InterVac underway
Vaccine trial at VIDO-InterVac underway – Feb 8, 2021

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