Ottawa urged to approve funding for a vaccine

Ottawa exhorté à approuver le financement d'un vaccin

Ottawa exhorté à approuver le financement d'un vaccin

Professionals argue that Canada has no guarantee that he will be first in line for a vaccine product at the international level.


July 24, 2020 17h49


Ottawa urged to approve funding for a vaccine

Mike Blanchfield

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — professionals call the Trudeau government to approve without delay the funding of a vaccine against the COVID-19 manufactured in Canada to reduce the risk that Canadians will have to wait for their doses of a potential product design foreign.

Health professionals have written to the minister of Innovation, Navdeep Bains, to urge him to take a decision on a proposal submitted in April by Providence Therapeutics of Toronto. The company is seeking $ 35 million in order to be able to determine if its vaccine is effective in humans after successful testing on animals.

These professionals argued that Canada has no guarantee that he will be first in line for a vaccine product at the international level. They attribute the slowness of the government to a public policy problem for a long time: the reluctance to partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the same way that he has tried to support other sectors.

“When you are faced with a pandemic like this, and that the government has already spent millions of dollars for all sorts of things, an additional investment in another technology of the vaccine, to increase our shots on goal to Canada, to help ensure that we are building actually the best vaccine, the vaccine was more effective, I think that it is logical,” said Laszlo Radvanyi, president and scientific director of the ontario Institute for cancer research, funded by the State.

The federal government has created a fund of $ 600 million to support clinical trials and manufacturing of vaccines in Canada.

Providence has told the government that it could deliver five million doses of its new vaccine-based Mrna by mid-2021 for use in Canada if it was able to pass the tests on the man.

The technology of the Mrna is new and untested, but experts argue that it has potential.

Canada has already invested in a partnership development of vaccines between the chinese company CanSino Biologics and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, but China is delayed to the end of may, the shipment of products to the researchers from Dalhousie to begin testing on humans.

“This should have been a caution in the review of this program. We are not in the best of terms with the chinese government,” said Mr. Radvanyi, who has worked with Providence on cancer treatments and has written to Mr Bains, to support the company.

He also argued that his support is based solely on the scientific merits of the proposal.

“With any new technology, it must be careful not to drink the Kool-Aid and let the data and the science speak for themselves. But it is clear that the data are highly promising emerging” new tests of vaccines based on Mrna, including the american society Moderna and the German company BioNTech, said Mr. Radvanyi.

These two companies were largely financed by the program “Operation Warp Speed” of the american president Donald Trump to accelerate the development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus.

This week, the United States is pledged to pay to BioNTech and its u.s. partner, Pfizer 1.95 billion $ to produce 100 million doses if their vaccine candidate is safe and effective in humans. In April, the United States agreed to pay Moderna up to 483 million dollars to fund his research. The next week, Moderna is expected to start a final series of tests with 30 000 people to study the efficacy of its vaccine candidate.

The chief executive of Providence, Brad Sorenson, has said that it was the complete silence on the side of the federal government since the end of the month of may after his company had submitted its proposal in April. The government had approached the company as a manufacturer tipped to a vaccine.

“We need a canadian solution, a solution manufactured in Canada. All of our (intellectual property), all our manufacturing, all our work is done in Canada,” said Mr. Sorenson.

“We are ready to produce,” he added.

The company wants to go forward with human testing, because it has generated neutralizing antibodies in animals, with the same technology used by BioNTech and Moderna, said Mr. Sorenson.

“And we are on a break. We are waiting”, he laments.

“We had identified a space to make a cycle of manufacturing for our vaccine in September. We have lost this space now because we have not got support, and we couldn’t keep it indefinitely.”

The spokesperson for the minister Bains, John Power, said he could not comment on specific proposals.

“A number of nominations have been received and are being evaluated for considerations of funding. The evaluation process is ongoing, and we will not comment on the status of individual applications,” he said in an e-mail response to a series of questions.

Brad Wouters, vice-president of science and research at the University Health Network, Toronto, said that the time had come for Canada to take the lead and support the company’s Providence, given the delay of the shipment by China.

“For me, it is somehow obvious to give a chance to these guys, especially with the promising data from the United States and other countries,” said Mr. Wouters, who has also written to Mr Bains, to support the proposal of Providence.

The new technology of the Mrna is a rupture with the way in which vaccines have traditionally been manufactured to combat the influenza or polio, for example. The traditional approach is to take a portion of the actual virus to make safe or inactive, and then inject it into the human body to create an immune response.

Instead of this approach, the Mrna is injected into a key fragment of the genetic material of the virus so that the human body can produce the viral proteins necessary to mount an immune response, said Mr. Wouters.

One of the benefits of vaccines based on Mrna, is that they are relatively inexpensive to produce, said Tania Watts, professor of immunology at the University of Toronto, who conducted a study on the duration of immunity to the COVID-19 in people who have recovered from infection.

Ms. Watts said she is not favoured, not necessarily Welfare compared to another project that would have managed to get federal funding, but stated that he was one of the many “platforms ” promising” for a vaccine.

“We don’t know if the vaccines are manufactured outside of Canada will be available to us, said Ms. Watts. If you were in the United States, you would probably ensure that your own supply was secure first.”

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