OTTAWA — The federal government has reached agreements with Novavax and Johnson & Johnson to secure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
The deals hinge on Health Canada approval but if trials proceed as planned, deliveries in Canada would begin at the start of 2021. The government has also inked deals with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna for access to millions of doses of their unique candidates.
“Taken together, our vaccine agreements with Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, will give Canada at least 88 million doses, with options to obtain tens of millions more,” said Trudeau during a press conference on Monday.
“Once a vaccine is proven to work, we’ll also need to be able to produce and distribute it here at home.”
Trudeau also announced the government would be spending $126 million to expand the bio-manufacturing facility at the National Research Council in Montreal, with a projected deadline of mid-2021.
“This funding will increase this facility’s ability to manufacture vaccines and will strengthen the NRC’s partnerships with vaccine developers.”
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says the candidate still has a variety of regulatory hurdles to overcome before it gets the green light but this step indicates Canada is well positioned in the global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s wonderful to see that the federal government is looking at vaccine candidates, looking at which ones could be successful. We appreciate that some of these might not be successful and we’re sort of hedging our bets and we’ll have access to vaccines when they become available,” he told CTV News Channel on Monday.
This follows news last week that Chinese customs halted the shipment of CanSino Biologics’ vaccine candidate to Canada, denying the opportunity to commence human trials here.
“Due to the delay in the shipment of the vaccine doses to Canada it is evident this specific opportunity is over and the NRC is focusing its team and facilities on other partners and COVID-19 priorities,” the National Research Council said in a statement on Thursday.
While multiple trials testing various vaccine candidates are progressing around the world, there is currently no accepted cure or vaccine for the novel coronavirus.