Federal government expected to announce update on making vaccines at home

Vaccine

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today is expected to announce the makings of an agreement to produce COVID-19 vaccines within Canada.

Industry Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne tells The Canadian Press the government is moving quickly to start making COVID-19 vaccines itself, instead of being entirely reliant on foreign production for the most sought-after product in the world.

The deal could help Trudeau tamp down the political headache caused by Canada's skeletal vaccine production capacity.

According to the National Post, the announcement is expected to be around Novavax producing its vaccine in Montreal.

A source tells the newspaper that the company has signed a memorandum of understanding to use the under-construction National Research Council's Montreal facility, and could begin producing vaccines in late July.

Novavax is a Maryland-based pharmaceutical company, and has an order to supply Canada with 52 million doses of its vaccine, and is seeking regulatory approval from Health Canada.

It's a two-dose vaccine, but can be stored in normal fridges, the National Post states, and it isn't as delicate as other vaccines. It's roughly 90 per cent effective.

Canada's inability to produce any COVID-19 vaccines at home has left the country at the mercy of foreign governments who could at any time slam the doors shut to vaccine exports until their own people are vaccinated.

That risk became ever more real this week as Europe's new export controls on vaccines takes hold, putting at risk Canada's entire supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

Champagne's department and the National Research Council have been in talks with all the front-running vaccine makers in the world for months, trying to lure at least one of them to make some of their vaccines at the new facility, which is on track to be finished this summer.

— With files from Ashley Legassic.