OTTAWA — The federal government is partnering with biopharmaceutical and biotechnology giants Pfizer and Moderna to help secure millions of vaccine doses to be ready for distribution across Canada in 2021.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Wednesday that the deal with the two multinational corporations would help put Canada in a competitive position in the global hunt for coronavirus therapies.
“Pfizer is evaluating at least four experimental vaccine candidates and is currently undergoing clinical trials. These trials are occurring in various countries including Germany and the United States and they’re already exhibiting promising results,” said Anand during a press conference in Toronto on Wednesday.
The minister didn’t provide detail on how many doses would be developed, or the exact dollar amount of the contract, pointing to ongoing, sensitive negotiations with other suppliers. Pfizer and Moderna’s candidates will require Health Canada approval.
There are currently 55 potential COVID-19 drugs, including vaccine candidates, that are currently being investigated in clinical trials authorized by Health Canada.
To be approved for use, any potential vaccine must move through a well-established testing process that involves three phases of human trials. The first and second phases focus on monitoring whether the drug produces the desired response from the human immune system. The third phase involves far more test subjects and aims to determine whether the vaccine candidate is actually able to stop the virus from infecting a body.
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who joined Anand for the announcement Wednesday, underlined the government’s efforts to diversify therapies, which he said will addressed at one of two task forces the Liberals have established.
“Until we immunize all Canadians, we must also focus on producing treatments for those who contract the virus,” he said. “[The task force] will be co-chaired by Nancy Harrison, director and past-chair of LifeSciences B.C. and Cedric Bisson, partner at Teralys Capital.”
Bains also announced $56 million to bolster vaccine development in Canada.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello and Ryan Flanagan
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