covid vaccine canada

Here's an update on the progress in Canada to develop a COVID-19 vaccine

Efforts to find a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada are well underway, with at least eight research groups across the country working tirelessly to find a way to immunize against the virus.

Here are the most promising efforts so far.

University of Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan boasts one of the world's most advanced infectious disease labs. It was the first lab in Canada to isolate the virus, and the first in the country to have a vaccine candidate in animal testing.

The lab is currently testing a vaccine on ferrets and hamsters.

University of Waterloo

Researchers are working hard to develop a COVID-19 vaccine that can be delivered through a non-invasive nasal spray. The spray works via bacteriophage, a process that allows a vaccine to replicate in bacteria that's already in the body. 

The research team is currently modifying the spray to apply to COVID-19.

University of Western Ontario

The university is working on a COVID-19 vaccine that uses "well-established VSV (Vesicular Stomatitis Virus)-based platform technology."

Canadian scientist Chil-Yong Kang says that he's used the same technology in the past to develop a vaccine for MERS, and that he feels optimistic about having a vaccine ready for testing soon.

Glycovax Pharma

This biopharmaceutical company in Montreal has developed a prototype glycoconjugate vaccine that's currently in the preclinical phase.

Carbohydrate-based vaccines are still a relatively new field in scientific literature. Dr. René Roy, a world expert in glycochemistry, called his team's unusual solution a "disruptive scientific strategy that we have a duty to explore."

Medicago

This Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company is developing a vaccine so promising that the government gave them upwards of $7 million in funding for it.

The company is using plant-based technology to produce a vaccine. The vaccine is currently in the pre-clinical testing phase, but Medicago hopes to start testing on humans by mid-summer.

Laval University

Professor Gary Kobinger, director of the university's Infectious Disease Research Center, was awarded $1 million from the government to develop a vaccine.

Kobinger is working to identify antibodies that can neutralize the virus.

Professor Denis Leclerc, another member of the university, received $700,000 to develop a nanoparticle-based vaccine to fight the virus.

University of Alberta

Michael Houghton — a co-discoverer of the hepatitis C virus in 1989 — is leading a team of researchers to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

Houghton hopes to go into Phase 1 clinical testing "at the end of this year, approximately."

"We have a unique combination of access to state-of-the-art research, biological development and a GMP facility to enable us to do the research," he said. "I think we have the ability to do it."

University of Manitoba

The federal government gave Dr. Xiao-Jian Yao and his research team over $597,000 to look at the development of a vaccine by using a technology platform.

The unique platform allows the team to examine a receptor-binding domain (RBD) inside the COVID-19 virus.

Canadian companies are also carrying out drug trials to treat patients that have already contracted the COVID-19 virus; at least four groups of Canadian researchers are already testing promising drugs.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional $1.1 billion in funding for COVID-19 vaccine research and testing.

Lead photo by

Medicago


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