Today Prime Minister Trudeau announced support to quickly mobilize Canadian researchers and life sciences companies to support large-scale efforts towards countermeasures to combat 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. We are all in this together, and need to be doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus. The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Announced earlier, $275 million for coronavirus research and medical countermeasures is part of the Government of Canada’s more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund. The funding will be used to advance projects that are already underway by university researchers and others to respond to COVID-19, and ensure domestic supply of potential vaccines.
To ensure research efforts can move quickly, $192 million in new projects that will be prioritized under the new Strategic Innovation Fund COVID-19 stream to deliver direct support to Canadian companies for large-scale projects. These companies include:
AbCellera, a Vancouver-based biotech company that is using state of the art 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. AbCellera was the first company in North America to receive a sample from a convalescent patient, and within days identified over 500 human antibodies that are candidates for development as a treatment.
Medicago, a Quebec City-based company with 20 years of experience in plant-based vaccines and therapeutics, that has identified a viable plant-based vaccine candidate currently at the pre-clinical testing phase. Funding will allow Medicago to rapidly move forward on clinical trials and then quickly shift to scaling up production for pandemic response.
Funding for the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), one of the largest and most advanced infectious disease research facilities in the world.
Funding of $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.
Support for BlueDot, a Toronto-based digital health firm, with a first-of-its-kind global early warning technology for infectious diseases. The company was one of the first in the world to identify the spread of COVID-19
These measures are part of a larger strategy the Government of Canada is implementing to protect Canadians and prevent the spread of the virus. The whole-of-government strategy will help ensure the capacity of our health care system, support international and domestic efforts, and mitigate the economic impacts on Canadians and Canadian business.