“This new federal funding recognizes that VIDO-InterVac is at the forefront of global efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 and other infectious disease threats,” says University of Saskatchewan Vice-President of Research Karen Chad. “This is critical work at VIDO-InterVac that will help protect the health and safety of all Canadians, as well as people around the world.”
Stepping up to the challenge
VIDO-InterVac is constructing a pilot-scale manufacturing facility on campus to accelerate vaccine development in Canada and abroad. A portion of the new will enable the team involved to build this facility to Good Manufacturing Practices standards as required for human vaccine production, says VIDO-InterVac Director Volker Gerdts. “We expect to begin vaccine production in a little more than a year.”
There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19 coronavirus. VIDO-InterVac is the first lab in the country to have a vaccine candidate in animal testing. The vaccine was made in February, and researchers expect to know in about four weeks whether the vaccine works in an animal model. Clinical testing of this vaccine in humans could start as early as this fall.
Researchers expect to know in about four weeks whether the vaccine works in an animal model. Clinical testing of this vaccine in humans could start as early as this fall.
“InterVac is part of the national and global response to emerging disease threats such as COVID-19 in humans and African swine fever in animals,” said Gerdts, who is participating in three World Health Organization expert groups on animal model and vaccine development for COVID-19.
Strong progress and collaboration
As one of the few Canadian research facilities with regulatory approval to work on the new virus, VIDO-InterVac was the first lab in the country to isolate the virus. This was done over five weeks ago, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Sunnybrook. The isolated virus was made available to federal and provincial laboratories.
VIDO-InterVac is also the first lab in Canada, and one of the very few in the world, to establish an animal model for COVID-19. Suitable animal models are critical to evaluate vaccines, antivirals and therapeutics. The lab’s animal model is now available to industry and academic partners from around the world.
In addition to vaccines, VIDO-InterVac is also testing antivirals and therapeutics from various Canadian and multinational companies, including two in China.