Two American pharmaceutical companies have agreed to deliver vaccines to the Canadian government
- Minister Anand; minister of public services and procurement
- COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force
- Canadian Government
Since December of 2019, cases of COVID-19 that had started on the other side of the globe continued to grow and had spread over to Canada. Now, the Canadian government has made a COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force that has been overseeing the process of vaccine research and development in Canada and looking into potential vaccines from non-Canadian companies.
Canada mandated a COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force in August 2020 to keep track of vaccine research progress and advise on deals. Soon after, the task force and the government decided to enter into two contracts with pharmaceutical and biotech companies Pfizer and Moderna. According to Minister Anand, “millions of doses” have been ordered. However, these vaccines are still only candidates and are currently in Phase Three clinical tests; they have not yet undergone Health Canada approval.
Numerous researchers produce various types of vaccines
Many companies are working to develop an effective COVID-19 vaccine and all have taken different approaches in regard to how the vaccine will protect people’s immune systems from the virus. Some of the main vaccine types include DNA, RNA, protein subunit, and viral vector vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna have both come up with RNA vaccine candidates which require two doses per patient.
Most candidates are in phase three testing, at the latest
The only vaccine that has received approval at all is in Russia, raising much controversy over the fact that it skipped past Phase Three testing. The steps to developing a vaccine to the approval stage is usually a long and rigorous process but, due to the global emergency, development throughout has been sped up, though it is generally expected that no steps be skipped and no corners be cut. The vaccine research stage starts with research which includes examining the different possible forms the vaccine could be delivered as. Then there are the pre-clinical tests which involve lab and animal tests, of which 145 vaccine candidates are currently being subjected to. After passing the pre-clinical tests, the candidate will reach human subjects. As of now, the UN landscape of vaccine candidates lists 35 in the clinical trials phase and furthermore, only eight are in Phase Three clinical tests.
What about Canadian vaccine candidates?
The Canadian government has been funding vaccine researchers in Canada, totalling to 47 research teams. However, there are only eight Canadian vaccine candidates in the UN’s Draft Landscape of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates and, amongst these eight teams, the farthest stage reached so far is Phase One of clinical testing and by only one team, Medicago.
The next step
Health Canada authorisation for vaccines in Canada is the next step after the clinical trials. For the vaccine candidates from Moderna and Pfizer or any other company to pass, they must make a New Drug Submission and provide scientific evidence of safety, quality and efficacy through their trials. This submission will then be examined by clinical reviewers from Health Canada who will ensure the lack of any major safety concerns and the proper response from the immune system. The manufacturing site may also be inspected for quality production. If the submission satisfies all requirements of the inspection, the vaccine will be assigned a Notice of Compliance and a Drug Identification Number.
The Canadian government has invested more than a billion dollars in COVID-19 tracking and vaccine research. VBI (Variation Biotechnologies Inc.) has had 56 million invested by way of the Strategic Innovation Fund as part of the plan to increase support in Canadian vaccine research so the government will be able to control vaccines delivered to the public.
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