Published: Tue, February 02, 2021
Medical | By

Canada signs deal with Novavax to make COVID-19 vaccine in Montreal

Canada signs deal with Novavax to make COVID-19 vaccine in Montreal

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government has set up deals with Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems and U.S-based Novavax to begin domestic vaccine production.

The Northwest Territories says a delay in shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Canada means the territory will receive fewer doses than expected this month.

He says a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Novavax to produce millions of vaccine doses at the National Research Council facility in Montreal once Health Canada grants vaccine approval.

Canada is on track to getting everyone who wants the vaccine, vaccinated by September, he said, while announcing the production of the COVID-19 vaccine, which he called a "major step" forward in getting the vaccine made in Canada for Canadians. The federal government later increased that purchase agreement, committing to buy at least 76 million doses of the two-dose product, according to a company statement.

The government has also invested $46 million into a vaccine development facility at the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (Vido-InterVac).

Meanwhile, the European Union plans to restrict export of the vaccine. Its target date for completion is March 2023, and at that point it would have the capacity to produce up to 240 million doses of its self-amplifying ribonucleic acid (RNA) COVID 19 vaccine every year.

That risk became ever more real this week as Europe's new export controls on vaccines take hold, putting at risk Canada's entire supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

"The past 12 months have been really hard", Trudeau said.

Canada's inability to produce any COVID-19 vaccines at home has left the country at the mercy of foreign governments, primarily in Europe, which so far have pledged not to cut off shipments of COVID-19 vaccines bound for Canada.

Ontario's daily COVID-19 case count is lower than expected because of a data issue.

Novavax scientists have been working on their vaccine since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Vaccines work, they are safe and effective, and when it's my turn, I will be ready to roll up my sleeve and get my doses", said Trudeau.

Today, Canada relies on imports for at least 85 per cent of the vaccines and other pharmaceuticals it uses. Sanofi pumps out millions of doses of vaccine in Toronto for diseases like whooping cough, polio and tetanus, while GSK's Quebec plant is where Canada gets most of its annual flu vaccine.

Canada used to have a strong domestic vaccine industry.

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