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Canada’s Medicago begins late-stage study of COVID-19 vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline

Click to play video: 'Plants key for Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine contender' Plants key for Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine contender
WATCH: Plants key for Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine contender – Jan 11, 2021

Canadian drug developer Medicago said on Tuesday it had started a late-stage study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine combined with a booster from GlaxoSmithKline.

The study plans to eventually enroll 30,000 participants and initially focus on healthy adults, followed by adults over the age of 65 and those with co-morbidities.

Read more: Drugmakers partner to develop COVID-19 vaccines aimed at new variants

Medicago, which has Canada’s most advanced COVID-19 vaccine project under development, expects to report results from a mid-stage trial of the vaccine in April.

The Medicago vaccine uses a technology known as virus-like particles, which mimics the structure of the coronavirus, but contain no genetic material from it.

Click to play video: 'The made-in-Quebec COVID-19 vaccine' The made-in-Quebec COVID-19 vaccine
The made-in-Quebec COVID-19 vaccine – Jan 14, 2021

It can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, of 2 C to 8 C, which provides it a logistical benefit.

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In phase one of its clinical trials, 100 per cent of people who received its COVID-19 vaccine developed significant antibody responses with no severe adverse effects.

Read more: Medicago’s breakthrough, ties to Big Tobacco and warnings a pandemic was coming

The phase 3 trial is expected to involve 30,000 people in 11 countries — including Canada — and will ultimately determine if the vaccine protects people from COVID-19. The vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart, and if approved by Health Canada, could be in the arms of Canadians by the second half of this year.

In March, the federal government announced it would fund Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. Seven months later, the federal government signed an agreement worth up to $173 million to accelerate Medicago’s vaccine development, secure doses, and complete the manufacturing plant.

— with files from Global News’ Carolyn Jarvis and Emanuela Campanella 

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