The Government of Saskatchewan and the federal government are committing $28 million to help Saskatoon researchers find a vaccine for COVID-19. Funding from both the province and Ottawa will support the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac).
The lab is one of the most advanced infectious disease research facilities in the world and has been evaluating COVID-19 vaccine models for several weeks.
“Saskatchewan is leading the global effort to find a vaccine and we are providing our researchers with additional support to continue and to share their life-saving work with Canadians and people around the world,” minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan Tina Beaudry-Mellor said.
VIDO-InterVac scientists were the first in Canada to isolate the virus that causes COVID-19, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and a research facility in Toronto. They expect to know in mid-April whether their vaccine works in an animal model. Clinical testing can start once VIDO-InterVac provides enough preliminary data for Health Canada to determine the candidate vaccine is safe in humans.
“The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians,” said Navdeep Bains, federal minister of innovation, science and industry. “We are all in this together: Canada is benefiting from the impressive and innovative power of our researchers at Saskatoon’s VIDO-InterVac in our national approach to fight COVID-19. Together, we are rapidly scaling-up our capacity in research and in manufacturing to combat this pandemic.”
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in January, the Government of Saskatchewan has provided researchers in Saskatoon with a total of $4.2 million. VIDO-InterVac also received $1 million through the federal rapid research funding initiative for COVID-19 research projects, in addition to the $23 million in federal funding announced on March 23 for the centre’s manufacturing facility to produce COVID-19 vaccines for clinical trials, and overall operational costs.
“This funding helps fast track vaccine development for emerging infections including COVID-19,” VIDO-InterVac director and chief executive officer Dr. Volker Gerdts said. “We very much appreciate the Government of Saskatchewan and the federal government’s continued support of our research and development efforts in these challenging times.”