The federal government today announced a $ 200 million investment to help a Mississauga, Ontario company build a plant that can produce millions of mRNA vaccines.
Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champaign said the money will be used to expand an existing site owned by Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. To provide “Made in Canada solutions such as vaccines and treatments for future pandemics”.
The money will increase Resilience’s ability to manufacture and final packaging a number of vaccines and treatments, including mRNA shots like the ones now used to fight COVID-19, Champagne said.
The government says the plant expansion will create 500 permanent jobs and 50 co-op jobs for students once construction is completed in 2024.
Adding about 55,000 square feet of plant space would allow Resilience to manufacture between 112 million and 640 million doses of mRNA product each year. The goal is to make Canada less dependent on foreign vaccine makers when the next pandemic occurs.
Watch | Trudeau and Champaign announced funding to build an RNA vaccine plant in Ontario:
Flexibility is a contractual development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), which means it aggregates products developed by other companies.
It is customary for major pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca, Merck, and Pfizer to outsource the actual pharmaceutical manufacturing process to third parties. Some companies have sold their manufacturing sites to focus on research and development. Novartis-owned plant in Busherville, Kew. It was sold to Avara, a contract manufacturing process, in 2018.
There is currently no CDMO in Canada capable of producing sufficient vaccine supplies to meet national and international requirements.
In an interview with CBC power politicsChampaign said the federal investment is designed to reverse “four decades of decline” in the nation’s bio-manufacturing sector.
The Canadian life sciences sector, which has been at the forefront of global vaccine development, has been hollowed out after years of paltry investments by both governments and the private sector.
Champaign said Canada had trouble luring any of the major vaccine players to Canada in the early days of this pandemic because there was very little filling and finishing capacity available here to mass-produce the shots. (Termination and packaging refers to the process of filling vials with the vaccine and ending the process of packaging the product for distribution.)
“I would say that this will change the rules of the game because by doing so, we will be able to support a number of vaccine candidates,” Champaign said. “We were looking around to return everything to Canada.”
Quebec-based Medicago reports promising results from early clinical trials
Canada has been completely dependent on foreign sources for the footage throughout the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, Canada had to contend with the threat of export controls and nationalization of vaccines, which led to the turbulent first few months of the vaccination campaign.
Based on the recommendations of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force – an independent panel of industry experts assembled to advise Ottawa on procurement – the federal government signed deals for AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi, and the company. The only Canadian, Quebec City-based Medicago.
Last fall, the federal government allocated $ 173 million to help Medicago develop a COVID-19 vaccine and build a large factory to produce it.
On Tuesday, Medicago, which is co-developing the product with GSK, reported positive data for early clinical trials on a plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine, which is different from the mRNA vaccines provided by Pfizer and Moderna or the virus vector vaccines from AstraZeneca and AstraZeneca. Johnson & Johnson.
“After two doses, the adjuvant candidate vaccine induced strong neutralizing antibodies and cellular immune responses in all subjects, regardless of age,” said Natalie Landry, Medicago’s executive vice president for scientific and medical affairs, in a statement.
“These results give us confidence as we continue to move forward with the third phase of our clinical trial. We hope to add another tool in the global fight against COVID-19, especially as mutual protection emerges as an important consideration in vaccination efforts around the world,” she said, noting. To the concept of mixing two different vaccine products.
In addition to today’s resilience funding pledge and Medicago’s commitment, the federal government has already promised about $ 455 million for a major expansion of the Sanofi plant in Toronto, which will primarily produce flu vaccines but can also be retrofitted to produce vaccines for coronaviruses.
Once operational, Sanofi will be able to manufacture enough flu vaccines for all Canadians each year at its Toronto facility.
One of the Canadian companies behind the promising shot of COVID-19 mRNA, Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics, has been vocal in its criticism of federal funding policy.
In an interview with CBC News last month, the company’s CEO, Brad Sorenson, threatened to withdraw from Canada after repeated requests for government assistance to bring its product into development were not met. Sorenson said his product could have lasted longer had Ottawa gotten the money in the early days of the pandemic.
Speaking on Tuesday, Champagne said he had recently spoken to Sorenson and committed to more federal support for Providence once its product finished the next phase of clinical trials.
“It’s not about the minister choosing the winners. It’s about the science that tells us what the most promising product is,” Champaign said. “If you get good results, we can support you. They are in the very early stages of trying to find vaccines.”
In addition to new money for future vaccine factories, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that Canada will receive another nine million injections of mRNA from Pfizer in July.
This means that the New York-based pharmaceutical company will send two million doses of vaccine to Canada every week for the foreseeable future. Based on these numbers, another nine million rounds will be delivered in August and September. Canada has requested a total of 48 million doses from Pfizer, enough to fully vaccinate 24 million people with two doses.