Canada announces new support for COVID-19 medical research and vaccine development

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau [THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang]

By Caribbean News Global Caribbean News Global fav Canada announces new support for COVID-19 medical research and vaccine development

OTTAWA, Canada – Prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, announced more than $1 billion in support of a national medical research strategy to fight COVID-19 that includes vaccine development, the production of treatments, and tracking of the virus. This new funding builds on the $275 million investment for coronavirus research and medical countermeasures announced in March.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been working closely with Canada’s health experts and researchers, who are some of the most skilled and brightest in the world. We are making sure that Canada remains at the forefront of scientific research to help us make smart and effective decisions on the path to recovery,” said the prime minister.

The government of Canada will invest in new medical countermeasures to better understand COVID-19 and develop the infrastructure needed to fight the virus here in Canada. This includes:

  • The establishment of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force that will operate under the direction of a leadership group, which will include Dr David Naylor, Dr Catherine Hankins, Dr. Tim Evans, D. Theresa Tam, and Dr Mona Nemer. The task force will establish priorities and oversee the coordination of a series of country-wide blood test surveys that will tell us how widely the virus has spread in Canada and provide reliable estimates of potential immunity and vulnerabilities in Canadian populations.
  • $40 million for the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), led by Genome Canada, to coordinate a COVID-19 viral and host genome sequencing effort across Canada. This research will help track the virus, its different strains, and how it makes people sick in different ways, providing valuable information to public health authorities and decision-makers as they put in place measures to control the pandemic. The results of this work will be available to researchers globally to support additional research, including Canadian vaccine development efforts.
  • $23 million for the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) to accelerate development of a vaccine against COVID-19. This funding will support pre-clinical testing and clinical trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, essential steps to ensuring that vaccines are effective and safe for human use.
  • $29 million for the National Research Council of Canada to begin the second phase of critical upgrades to its Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal. Building on ongoing work to ready the facility for the production of vaccines for clinical trials, this funding will support operations to maintain the facility, as well as provide infrastructure to prepare vials for individual doses as soon as a vaccine becomes available.
  • $600 million, through the Strategic Innovation Fund, over two years to support COVID-19 vaccine and therapy clinical trials led by the private sector, and Canadian biomanufacturing opportunities.
  • $10 million for a Canadian data monitoring initiative so we can coordinate and share pandemic-related data across the country to enhance Canada’s response to COVID-19.
  • $10.3 million over two years, and $5 million ongoing, to support the Canadian Immunization Research Network in conducting vaccine-related research and clinical trials, and to enhance Canada’s capacity to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness.
  • $114.9 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing, and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as its social and health impacts.

Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and industry, said, “We know that science is fundamental to beating COVID-19 and Canada is benefiting from the impressive and innovative power of Canadian researchers in our coordinated national approach to fight COVID-19. Together, we are rapidly scaling up our research capacity to harness genomic sequencing data to inform public health interventions and to advance a vaccine against COVID-19 to protect Canadians and end the crisis.”

Patty Hajdu, minister of health said, “The investment Canada is making now in research will result in our country being better equipped to plan for the coming months. Some of the best health experts and health researchers in Canada will help us implement the right next public health measures to respond to COVID-19. They will also help us put in place strategies to support essential workers – based on evidence and on what we know about who has been exposed – and plan for the use of a vaccine.”

Separately, said prime minister Trudeau “the government of Canada is providing over $675,000 through the Stem Cell Network to support two new research projects and one clinical trial. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety of potential cell therapy to reduce the impacts and severity of acute respiratory distress associated with COVID-19, and the two projects will generate critical information about how cells in the airway and brain are affected by the virus.”

“By supporting COVID-19 research, the critical work being done by our country’s scientists, and vaccination efforts, we will be able to better protect the health and safety of Canadians and vulnerable populations around the world,” he said.

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