Backgrounder – Government of Canada investments in biomanufacturing, development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, and research
[Updated May 18, 2021]
The Government of Canada's number one priority is to protect the health of Canadians. That's why the government is implementing a multi-faceted procurement strategy to provide a COVID-19 vaccine to every Canadian who wants one by September.
The government established the Vaccine and Therapeutics task forces and Biomanufacturing Subcommittee, made up of leading industry experts and scientists, to advise the government on how to address this challenge as a national priority.
Since the outset of the pandemic, the government has made a series of investments in biomanufacturing, developing domestic vaccine and therapeutic candidates, and targeted research which will help advance medical counter measures to protect Canadians, and which will also improve Canada's global competitiveness.
The government continues to take action based on the best available science, both in pursuing vaccine and therapeutic candidates and investing in biomanufacturing opportunities to fight the current pandemic, and to build resilience for future pandemics.
Funding committed through the Strategic Innovation Fund
$192 million for coronavirus research and medical countermeasures from the government's Plan to Mobilize Science (March 23, 2020).
$600 million to support COVID-19 vaccine and therapy clinical trials led by the private sector, and for Canadian bio-manufacturing opportunities. This announcement was part of the $1 billion Plan to Mobilize Science (April 23, 2020).
- $175.6 million to support AbCellera (Vancouver, BC) in its antibody therapy research and the construction of an antibody production facility (May 3, 2020).
- Up to $56 million to support clinical trials for a COVID-related vaccine candidate from Variations Biotechnologies Inc. (VBI) (Ottawa, ON) (August 5, 2020).
- Up to $173 million in Medicago (Québec City, QC) to advance its virus-like particle vaccine candidate and establish a large-scale biomanufacturing facility (October 23, 2020).
- Up to $18.2 million in Precision NanoSystems (Vancouver, BC) to help advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate through preclinical studies and clinical trials (October 23, 2020) and an additional $25.1 million in Precision NanoSystems (Vancouver, BC), to support a $50.2-million project to expand Canada's capabilities in the production of ribonucleic acid (RNA) vaccines and future genetic medicines, while enhancing Canada's biomanufacturing capacity (February 2, 2021).
- Up to $6.7 million to Arch Biopartners (Toronto, ON) to advance its lead drug candidate as a treatment for organ inflammation in severe cases of COVID-19 (December 15, 2020).
- Up to $14 million to Edesa Biotech (Markham, ON), which is developing a monoclonal antibody therapy (EB05) as a treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, the leading cause of death among COVID-19 patients (February 2, 2021).
- Up to $54.2 million to KABS Laboratories Inc., (Saint-Hubert, QC), for the expansion of its Saint-Hubert facility and establishing a new facility in Val-des-Sources, in Quebec. The expansion of its Saint-Hubert facility will allow for additional fill and finish capacity and the new facility in Val-des-Sources will house new bioprocessing and testing equipment to offer new antibody manufacturing capacity. (March 16, 2021).
- Up to $32.7 million to Novocol Pharmaceutical of Canada (Cambridge, ON) to expand their biomanufacturing facilities to support the expansion of Novocol's fill-finish services; through the fill-finish process that vials filled with vaccines or therapeutics and packaged for distribution. (March 16, 2021).
- Up to $13.44 million to Immune Biosolutions (Sherbrooke, QC) to help develop and advance its therapeutic candidate from pre-clinical studies through to Phase II clinical trials. (March 16, 2021).
- Up to $199.16 million to Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. (RBI) (Mississauga, ON) to increase its manufacturing and fill-finish capacity for a number of vaccines and therapeutics, including for those that use novel technology such as mRNA and that are now being deployed to fight COVID-19 (May 18, 2021).
Funding committed through the Next Generation Manufacturing Canada Supercluster
- $2.5 million for IMV (Dartmouth, NS) to advance clinical development of its vaccine candidate for the prevention of COVID-19 infection. (August 5, 2020).
- Up to $5 million investment in Providence Therapeutics and Northern RNA, through the Next Generation Manufacturing Canada supercluster, to expand their operations in Calgary to design and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and build a pipeline of mRNA vaccines (January 21, 2021).
Funding committed through the National Research Council
- $15 million through NRC for its Pandemic Response Challenge program to fast-track research and development aimed at accelerating the development of diagnostic tools and medical countermeasures to protect and treat Canadians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (March 23, 2020)
- $15 million to fund COVID-19 specific challenges through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) and Innovative Solutions Canada. (March 23, 2020)
- $44 million investment for the National Research Council of Canada to establish a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) compliant clinical trial material facility at its Royalmount site in Montréal. Once complete, this permanent facility will be able to produce small-batch clinical trial materials from cell-based biologics production, including platforms such as viral vector, protein subunit, virus-like particles and other recombinant proteins. (March 23, 2020 and April 23, 2020)
- $126 million investment for the National Research Council of Canada) to build a new Biologics Manufacturing Centre at its Royalmount site in Montréal. Once built, the new centre will be capable of large-quantity, end-to-end production of vaccines—approximately 2 million doses per month, depending on the vaccine candidate. Construction continues to be on schedule for completion in July 2021 (August 31, 2020).
- Providing advisory services and more than $37 million in stage 1 funding through NRC IRAP to help advance the early stage research and development of six vaccine candidates and seven therapeutics candidates, as follows:
- Up to $5.4 million to IMV (Dartmouth, NS) for phase 2/3 clinical trials of its DPX-COVID19 vaccine candidate;
- Up to $5.0 million to Entos Pharmaceuticals (Edmonton, AB) for phase 1 clinical trials of its Covigenix VAX-001 vaccine candidate;
- Up to $4.9 million to Providence Therapeutics (Toronto, ON) for phase 1 clinical trials of its PTX-COVID19-B mRNA vaccine candidate;
- Up to $4.0 million to Glycovax Pharma (Montréal, QC) for phase 1 clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate;
- Up to $2.8 million to Symvivo (Burnaby, BC) to advance its bacTRL-Spike oral DNA vaccine candidate in preclinical and phase 1 clinical trials; and
- Up to $1.3 million to Biodextris (Laval, QC) for preclinical development of its nasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
- Up to $289,000 to Bold Therapeutics (Vancouver, BC) for a project to prepare preclinical efficacy data in live SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and support preparation for clinical trials and manufacturing of its BOLD-100 investigational therapy to treat patients with viral infections, including COVID-19;
- Up to $4.6 million to JN Nova Pharma (Montréal, QC) to assist in the development of a proprietary drug to block coronavirus infection, while reducing the impacts of the disease in patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms so they may recover faster;
- Up to $4.1 million to Laurent Pharmaceuticals (Montréal, QC) for the clinical development of its LAU-7b antiviral and inflammation controlling therapy for COVID-19 infections;
- Up to $109,000 to Qu Biologics (Vancouver, BC) for a project to provide proof-of-concept evidence for the safety and efficacy of a preventive treatment, as well as therapeutic use of a treatment, to protect the lungs and prevent serious COVID-19 infection;
- Up to $1.9 million to Hypermabs Inc. (Toronto, Ont.) to support the development of their FB100 therapeutic, a novel treatment for COVID-19 survivors with lung fibrosis;
- Up to $1.7 million to Mannin Research Inc. (Toronto, Ont.) to support the development of methodology for purification and pre-clinical testing of a therapeutic to prevent vascular leakage in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome;
- Up to $1.2 million to Vasomune Therapeutics Inc. (Toronto, Ont.) to support phase 1 clinical trials of its AV-001 drug candidate which will be used to treat patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome resulting from COVID-19;
- Providing up to $113 million in stage 2 NRC IRAP funding to help the most promising of the stage 1 funding recipients advance to the next phase of clinical developments; and (March 16, 2021); and
- Signing a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to pursue production of its COVID‑19 vaccine at the NRC's Biologics Manufacturing Centre, once both the vaccine candidate and the facility receive the required Health Canada approvals. (February 2, 2021).
Funding committed through Regional Development Agencies
- $1 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for IMV (Dartmouth, NS) to support the pre-clinical activities necessary to meet the requirements for a clinical trial application to Health Canada (July 2020); and
- $35 million, through Western Economic Diversification Canada, to the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) to accelerate development of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate and enhance its vaccine manufacturing facilities to the good manufacturing practices standards required for human vaccines (December 11, 2020).
Funding committed through the Canada Foundation for Innovation
- Over $11 million in operation funding to support COVID-19 research to the University of Saskatchewan's VIDO (Saskatoon, SK) (March 2020); and
- More than $27.6 million to cover the urgent need for equipment for ongoing research related to COVID-19 for 79 research infrastructure projects at 52 universities and research hospitals, colleges, polytechnics and cegeps across Canada (November 6, 2020).
- Including $300,000 to VIDO for new imaging equipment to help understand COVID-19 infection.
Funding committed through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
- Nearly $27 million from CIHR to support 47 research teams from across Canada that will focus on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. The research will help inform clinical and public health responses, develop and evaluate diagnostic tools and vaccines, as well as create strategies to tackle misinformation, stigma, and fear (March 6, 2020).
- Including $1 million to VIDO through the federal rapid research funding initiative for research projects aimed at addressing COVID-19.
- $114.9 million from CIHR for research projects that will accelerate the development, testing and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 as well as its social and health impacts (April 23, 2020);
- In February 2020, CIHR issued a rapid research funding opportunity to accelerate the development, testing and implementation of medical and social countermeasures to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its negative consequences on people and communities;
- Through this process, and in collaboration with federal and provincial partners, CIHR invested $55.3M in 100 research projects across the country, followed in June 2020, by an additional investment of $111.1M to support a further 140 research projects (June 25, 2020);
- More than $19 million in funding through NSERC, in collaboration with the SSHRC and CIHR, to leverage the expertise of researchers in natural sciences and engineering and their partners across Canada to address this unprecedented crisis. This investment will support nearly 370 COVID-19 research projects, including work related to vaccines (August 5, 2020); and
- $25.2 million in funding through the CIHR in 52 research projects to further improve our understanding of COVID-19 and tackle persistent evidence gaps linked to this disease. Led by researchers across the country, the new COVID-19 projects will focus on topics such as variants of the virus, vaccine development and uptake, testing, mental health, and the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is having specific impacts on women, racialized populations, and Métis, Inuit and First Nations Peoples. (March 12, 2021)
The Government of Canada also invested:
- $3.5 million through CIHR to scale up the Canadian arm of the Solidarity trial named Canadian Treatments for COVID-19 (CATCO). This new investment adds to initial funding of more than $950,000 that the research team received from CIHR in early March 2020. The new funding will expand the number of hospitals participating in the trial, which aims to find the best treatment for COVID-19 (May 28, 2020);
- $1 million through CIHR to create a COVID-19 Knowledge Synthesis Network support collaboration and rapid response to the need for synthesized Canadian knowledge and evidence across the full breadth of Canada's COVID-19 pandemic response (including public-health measures, clinical management, health-system arrangements, and economic and social impacts) (January 13, 2021); and
- $6 million through CIHR to create the Canadian Network of COVID-19 Clinical Trials Networks, which will expand existing national and international clinical trial networks and coordinate research on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 (January 20, 2021).
Variants of Concern (VOC) Research
- CIHR is investing up to $25 million in fiscal year 2020-21 to scale up research to increase our understanding of emerging variants, support research coordination in Canada and with partners globally, and provide decision makers with rapid guidance regarding drug therapy, vaccine effectiveness, and other public health strategies. This is being accomplished by launching several rapid response competitions, of which the following have already been announced:
- Supplementary funding for CIHR funded COVID-19 researchers studying variants will enable rapid and timely research responsive to the current phase of COVID-19 pandemic in Canada and internationally and is focused on research related to the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. It will serve to lay the groundwork for the formation of the Network for Emerging Variants research. This initiative represents an investment of roughly $4.9 million (February 11, 2021); and
- A Network for Emerging Variants Research, that received a $9 million investment will enable the rapid support of research activities required to swiftly characterize and assess the individual and population health threats of emerging variants of concern. (February 12, 2021).
Other investments and projects underway
- Investments as part of the $1 billion Plan to Mobilize Science, include:
- $40 million for the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network, led by Genome Canada, to coordinate a COVID-19 viral and host genome sequencing effort across Canada. The results of this work will be available to researchers globally to support additional research, including Canadian vaccine development efforts;
- $10.3 million over two years, and $5 million in ongoing funding, to support the Canadian Immunization Research Network in conducting vaccine-related research and clinical trials and to enhance Canada's capacity to monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness (April 23, 2020); and
- Over $675,000 through the Stem Cell Network to support two new research projects and one clinical trial. The clinical trial will evaluate the safety of a potential cell therapy to reduce the impacts and severity of acute respiratory distress associated with COVID-19, and the two projects will generate critical information about how cells in the airway and brain are affected by the virus (April 23, 2020).
For additional information, please contact:
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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