Feds announce new funding for research into COVID-19

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Canada says it is supporting the country’s researchers doing critical COVID-19 work to protect Canadian’s health and safety.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $275 million in support to mobilize Canadian researchers and life sciences companies in supporting large-scale countermeasure efforts to battle COVID-19, including potential vaccines and treatments.

“Canada is home to some of the most skilled and brightest researchers in the world, who are working hard to develop countermeasures that will protect the health and safety of Canadians and support international efforts to fight this pandemic,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a media release Monday. “We are all in this together, and need to be doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Monday’s announcement includes $192 million in new projects, including:

AbCellera, who the government says are at the forefront of developing antibody-based drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19, are currently using technology to search blood samples of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to find naturally-produced antibodies that can be used for treatment and prevention.

Medicago, a Quebec City-based company, the feds say have identified a viable plant-based vaccine candidate currently at the pre-clinical testing phase. The government’s new funding will allow Medicago to rapidly move forward on clinical trials and then quickly shift to scaling up production for pandemic response.

The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) is receiving $11 million in funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. VIDO-InterVac will be able to strengthen its existing expertise in coronavirus research and to help develop a vaccine for COVID-19. An additional $12 million from Western Economic Diversification’s Regional Economic Growth Through Innovation program will help VIDO-InterVac expand its bio-manufacturing capacity to support clinical trials.

There is an additional $15 million for the National Research Council of Canada to upgrade its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal to develop, test and scale-up promising vaccine candidates to be ready for industrial production.

The government says this will involve certifying the facility for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) quality assurance to ensure that their human pharmaceuticals and biologics, including vaccines, are consistently produced and controlled.

Toronto-based digital health firm Blue Dot will provide the Public Health Agency of Canada with its disease analytics platform to support modelling and monitoring of the spread of COVID 19, and to inform government decision-making as the situation evolves.

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