Canada Signs MOU for Vaccine Production

·2 min read

Prime Minister Trudeau this morning has just announced that Canada has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American pharmaceutical company Novovax to produce its vaccine at the National Research Council of Canada’s facilities in Montreal. The Royalmount facility was initially given $44 million to upgrade in preparation for a deal that was in the works with a Chinese company, when this deal collapsed, an additional $123 million was earmarked to build a brand new facility beside the current NRC one. The completion of this is expected this summer, after which Health Canada must approve the site before it can begin production. As part of its negotiations with Novovax, Canada has secured 53 million doses of the vaccine. While this will not directly impact what is happening today with vaccines, COVID-19 is not going to disappear and as researchers have previously stated we don’t know how long the immune response will be effective for and whether or not booster shots will be necessary. The ability to produce vaccines here in Canada is something health experts have long been calling for. The current vaccines while still effective against the new variants of the virus that have been discovered, may not be against future ones. The Novovax vaccine is reported to have an 89.3% efficacy rate in its stage 3 clinical trials and produces a strong rate of protection against the UK variant which has been on the uptick in Canada in recent weeks.

This funding the Prime Minister said, is in addition to the $46 million which has been committed to the production facility that is being built at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO site which when in operation, expected by the end of 2021, will be capable of producing 40 million doses annually and a production facility in Vancouver which when completed in 2023 will be capable of producing 200 million doses of vaccine annually.

Prior to the 1980’s, Canada had a strong domestic vaccine industry and only relied on imports for only about 20% of its domestic pharmaceutical needs for both vaccines and therapeutic drugs. Today, Canada relies on imports of at least 85% of the pharmaceuticals Canadians require.

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder