Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

vaccine

The head of a Canadian biotech industry association says Canada can and does make vaccines _ just not the ones expected first to help stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau created a firestorm Tuesday when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated for COVID-19 because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.

Canada, said Trudeau, ``no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines'' and it makes sense that the countries that do will prioritize their own citizens.

Andrew Casey, the CEO of BioteCanada, told The Canadian Press Wednesday that Canada does produce vaccines but the technology for the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates is so new, the manufacturing capacity is being built alongside the vaccines themselves.

``This is the first time the technology has actually been applied,'' he said. ``So you have to then build the facility to manufacture at scale, which is a challenge.''

While Sanofi has a vaccine plant in Toronto and GlaxoSmithKline has one in Quebec, both make protein-based vaccines, such as the more familiar ones Canadians get every year for the flu.