Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, highlighted investments to build Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity and talked about the next steps in Canada’s immediate response to COVID-19.
The government established the Vaccine and Therapeutics task forces and Biomanufacturing Subcommittee, made up of leading industry experts and scientists, to advise the government on how to address this challenge as a national priority.
Canada has the most diversified vaccine portfolio in the world. The government has invested more than $1 billion in vaccine procurement agreements to secure a domestic supply, of up to 429 million doses, of seven promising vaccines—representing more than 10 doses for every Canadian. The government continues to take action based on the best available science, both in pursuing vaccine candidates and investing in biomanufacturing opportunities.
Developing domestic biomanufacturing of vaccines and therapeutics
Actions taken so far include:
- Supporting AbCellera in Vancouver by providing $175.6 million, through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), toward its antibody therapy research and the construction of an antibody production facility (May 3, 2020).
- Providing support for the National Research Council of Canada to build a new Biologics Manufacturing Centre at its Royalmount site in Montréal. Once built, the new centre will be capable of large-quantity, end-to-end production of vaccines—approximately two million doses per month, depending on the vaccine candidate. Construction continues to be on schedule for completion in July 2021. (August 31, 2020)
- Providing $35 million, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, to the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization — International Vaccine Centre to accelerate development of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate and enhance its vaccine manufacturing facilities to the good manufacturing practices standards required for human vaccines. (March 23, 2020)
- Investing up to $173 million in Medicago, through SIF, to advance its virus-like particle vaccine candidate and establish a large-scale biomanufacturing facility (October 23, 2020).
- Investing up to $5 million in Providence Therapeutics and Northern RNA Inc., through Canada’s Next Generation Manufacturing Supercluster, to expand their operations in Calgary to design and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and build a pipeline of mRNA vaccines (January 21, 2021).
- Investing $25.1 million in Vancouver-based biotechnology company Precision NanoSystems Incorporated, through SIF, to support a $50.2-million project to expand Canada’s capabilities in the production of ribonucleic acid (RNA) vaccines and future genetic medicines, while enhancing Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity (February 2, 2021).
- Signing a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to pursue the production of its COVID‑19 vaccine at the NRC’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre, once both the vaccine candidate and the facility receive the required Health Canada approvals. (February 2, 2021).
Vaccine and therapeutics research and development
Funding commitments so far include:
- $275 million for the government’s Plan to Mobilize Science, which included $192 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund to work with Medicago to develop a plant-based virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine for COVID-19 and with AbCellera to support its antibody therapy development (March 23, 2020).
- $15 million through the National Research Council of Canada for its Pandemic Response Challenge program to fast-track research and development aimed at accelerating the development of diagnostic tools and medical countermeasures to protect and treat Canadians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $15 million to fund COVID-19 specific challenges through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program and Innovative Solutions Canada.
- Other investments as part of the $1 billion Plan to Mobilize Science, including:
- $40 million for the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network, led by Genome Canada, to coordinate a COVID-19 viral and host genome sequencing effort across Canada. The results of this work will be available to researchers globally to support additional research, including Canadian vaccine development efforts;
- $10 million for a Canadian data monitoring initiative to coordinate and share pandemic-related data across the country to enhance Canada’s response to COVID‑19;
- $10.3 million over two years, and $5 million in ongoing funding, to support the Canadian Immunization Research Network in conducting vaccine-related research and clinical trials and to enhance Canada’s capacity to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness (April 23, 2020); and
- $114.9 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 as well as its social and health impacts.
- Over $675,000 through the Stem Cell Network to support two new research projects and one clinical trial. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety of a potential cell therapy to reduce the impacts and severity of acute respiratory distress associated with COVID-19, and the two projects will generate critical information about how cells in the airway and brain are affected by the virus (April 23, 2020).
- Up to $56 million, through SIF, to support clinical trials for a COVID-related vaccine candidate from Variation Biotechnologies Inc. (August 5, 2020).
- More than $19 million in funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and CIHR, to leverage the expertise of researchers in natural sciences and engineering and their partners across Canada to address this unprecedented crisis. This investment will support nearly 370 COVID-19 research projects, including work related to vaccines (August 5, 2020).
- More than $3 million for Nova Scotia-based IMV Inc. to advance clinical development of its vaccine candidate for the prevention of COVID-19 infection. This support is being provided through contributions from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program and the Next Generation Manufacturing Canada supercluster (August 5, 2020).
- Up to $18.2 million in Precision NanoSystems Incorporated, through SIF, to help advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate through pre-clinical studies and clinical trials (October 23, 2020).
- Providing advisory services and up to $23.2 million through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program to advance six vaccine candidates, including up to:
- $5.4 million to Immunovaccine Technologies Inc. (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia) for phase 2/3 clinical trials of its DPX-COVID19 vaccine candidate;
- $5.0 million to Entos Pharmaceuticals (Edmonton, Alberta) for phase 1 clinical trials of its Covigenix VAX-001 vaccine candidate;
- $4.7 million to Providence Therapeutics COVID Inc. (Toronto, Ontario) for phase 1 clinical trials of its PTX-COVID19-B mRNA vaccine candidate;
- $4.0 million to Glycovax Pharma (Montréal, Quebec) for phase 1 clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate;
- $2.8 million to Symvivo (Burnaby, British Columbia) to advance its bacTRL-Spike oral DNA vaccine candidate in preclinical and phase 1 clinical trials; and
- $1.3 million to Biodextris Inc. (Laval, Quebec) for pre-clinical development of its nasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate (October 23, 2020).
- Up to $6.7 million to Arch Biopartners, through SIF, to advance its lead drug candidate as a treatment for organ inflammation in severe cases of COVID-19 (December 15, 2020).
- Up to $14 million through SIF to Edesa Biotech, which is developing a monoclonal antibody therapy (EB05) as a treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, the leading cause of death among COVID-19 patients (February 2, 2021).