The government announced Wednesday it had placed orders with Pfizer and Moderna, two companies with candidates in the third and final stage of trials
OTTAWA – Following the lead of other countries, the federal government has purchased early access to two of the leading candidates for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The government announced Wednesday they had placed orders with Pfizer and Moderna, two of the companies with candidates in the third and final stage of clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines, which could be ready by the end of the year.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said she was pleased to have reached deals that will give Canadians access to the vaccines, provided they are successful, in 2021.
“We are extremely pleased to be among the first countries to establish these agreements,” she said.
Anand said the government has secured millions of doses, but didn’t specify exactly how many, what they would cost or when in 2021 they would be delivered. Anand said the government will make those details public in time, but for now it can’t because of ongoing negotiations with other suppliers.
“Canada is pursuing agreements with a number of international and domestic companies to guarantee a supply base of potential vaccine,” she said. “We owe it to Canadians to explore every options for vaccines.”
She said the government is negotiating secure orders with options to get millions more doses. The government has also placed orders for millions of syringes, alcohol swabs and other equipment for a mass vaccination campaign when a vaccine is ready.
Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines are both in the third and final stage of clinical trials. Assuming those trials are successful, Pfizer, which is partnering with another company called BioNTech said it can produce up to 100 million doses of its vaccine this year and another 1.3 billion in 2021.
Moderna has also entered into a series of partnerships to be able to manufacture one billion doses of its vaccine per year.
Both vaccines are messenger ribonucleic acid or mRNA vaccines, which essentially trick the body into making spike proteins, similar to the spike proteins that allow COVID-19 to infect cells. Once those spike proteins are there, the body’s own immune system can learn to attack them, preventing infection.
Canada is not the first country to strike a deal for one of these vaccines. The U.S. government secured a deal in mid July with Pfizer to provide up to 100 million doses for $1.95 billion, with an option to provide 500 million more doses.
In June, a European consortium made up of France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy has a deal with AstraZeneca, which is manufacturing the Oxford University vaccine, to provide up to 400 million doses.
The U.S., U.K. and India also have deals struck for the Oxford vaccine and the company said it believes it could make up to two billion doses spread across several countries.
The whole process of making better vaccines has been accelerated by this pandemic
Conservative MP Matt Jeneroux said getting to the table finally is a welcome move, but he is worried the government waited too long and Canada is now at the back of the line.
“Finally, Canada’s decided to realize that vaccines are an important component of recovery, however we’re months behind the other countries,” he said. “It’s frustrating to see that this government continues to be months behind the rest of the world.”
Immunologist and University of Toronto professor Tania Watts had been concerned about Canada’s lack of purchase agreements, but she said she is pleased with Wednesday’s announcement.
“We don’t know what they’re negotiating in detail — how many doses and when they will get them — but I think those are among the front runners,” she said.
She said the mRNA process both companies are using allows for mass production and with the billions of doses they say they can make, Canada should still be able to get some.
“Even though a lot of other countries have ordered them, I think it is a safe bet that there will be some for Canada.”
She said the government should also invest in Canadian vaccines and production capability, which could have a lasting legacy after the pandemic.
“The whole process of making better vaccines has been accelerated by this pandemic and we found ourselves without much manufacturing capability, without a pipeline from discovery and yet we have very good scientists.”
Finally, Canada’s decided to realize that vaccines are an important component of recovery
The government did announce $56 million in funding to Variation Biotechnologies Inc, a Canadian firm that is developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The funding will help the company move into clinical trials.
Dr. Zain Chagla, a specialist in infectious diseases and an assistant professor at McMaster University, said the vaccine purchase announcement is a good step forward. The two companies’ mRNA technology is new, but he said it’s also very promising
“There has never been a vaccine used in humankind that is mRNA targeted. It’s using the building blocks of the viral proteins to manufacture those proteins internally and then use that to provoke an immune response.”
Chagla said the technology may be new, but the science behind it is solid and holds great promise not just for this pandemic, but for other viruses moving forward.
“This is the proof of principle,” he said. “If this works it is a big win for humanity.”
David Fisman, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, said both vaccines have proven themselves in early trials and hold a lot of promise.
He said unlike with other vaccines that require growing a virus, the mRNA technology is manufactured more easily and can be scaled up quickly.
“You are basically just making a chemical, just like any other pharmaceutical,” he said.
He said the vaccine mimics functions the body already does and appears safe.
“It is a very elegant approach and there is no reason to be concerned about it,” he said.
He also applauded the government for getting eggs in more than one basket, because he said there could be unexpected issues that prevent a vaccine from being successful.
“Industrial scale manufacturing can have unexpected problems.”
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday she was optimistic about the vaccine research underway, but she cautioned not to allow the promise of a future vaccine to cloud the need for public health measures now.
“We can’t at this stage put all of our focus in the hopes this is the silver bullet solution,” she said. “It is a very important solution if we get a safe and effective vaccine but I would say the public health measures that we have in place, the personal daily measures that we take are going to have to continue.”
News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #231 – news.gov.mb.ca
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One New COVID-19 Case Among 223 Around BC – My Cowichan Valley Now
Health officials in B.C. reported 223 new COVID-19 cases on Friday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are 2,009 active cases in the province, with 4,637 people under active public health monitoring.
A total of 10,247 people who tested positive have now recovered.
Currently, 75 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 24 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
Vancouver Island only had one new confirmed case.
There have been two new health-care facility outbreaks at Laurel Place and Fair Haven Homes Burnaby Lodge. In total, 16 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and two acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.
The outbreaks at PICS Assisted Living, Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre, Chartwell Carrington House Retirement Residence and Thornebridge Gardens Retirement Residence have been declared over.
There have also been two new community outbreaks at Coast Spas Manufacturing and Pace Processing.
“In recent days, we have seen a number of new outbreaks of COVID-19 in the community and in long-term care facilities,” Henry says. “Contact-tracing teams throughout our province are working around the clock to stop further spread, but it requires all of us to do our part to be successful in these efforts.”
COVID-19 outbreak declared in 3rd unit of St. Boniface Hospital – CBC.ca
More cases of COVID-19 were discovered in a third unit of Winnipeg’s St. Boniface Hospital, according to an internal memo.
In a letter to all staff and physicians on Friday, the hospital’s president and CEO Martine Bouchard wrote that management declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the B5 unit.
Anyone who was exposed will be told to self-isolate and be tested as the origin of the transmission is investigated.
Last week, outbreaks were declared in the E5 and E6 medical units. As of Wednesday, 11 patients and five staff had tested positive.
CBC News has reached out to Shared Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority for updated numbers of cases.
No new patients will be admitted to those units for now.
The hospital is still open, and clinics and procedures are continuing.
However, visitors will not be allowed in those units until further notice.
On Thursday, another outbreak was declared in two units of Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg.
News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #231 – news.gov.mb.ca
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