Canadian Manufacturing

Canada signs a deal with Novavax to make its COVID-19 vaccine at the new Montreal facility

Novavax applied on Jan. 29 for regulatory approval in Canada but is still finishing its clinical trials and doesn't expect to have the final data available for that review for a month or two at least.

February 2, 2021  The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a tentative deal on Feb. 2 with U.S. vaccine-maker Novavax to produce its product in Canada if the COVID-19 vaccine gets approved for use here.

“This is a major step forward to get vaccines made in Canada, for Canadians,” Trudeau said.

But the agreement isn’t going to ease pressure on the government to get vaccines into Canada, because Novavax first has to get its vaccine approved, the National Research Council has to finish building a new facility in Montreal where the doses will be made, and that facility has to be certified to make the vaccines.

Novavax applied on Jan. 29 for regulatory approval in Canada but is still finishing its clinical trials and doesn’t expect to have the final data available for that review for a month or two at least. The NRC facility is going up at lightning speed, said Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, but it won’t be finished until late summer.

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And then it will take a month or two, said Champagne, for the facility to be certified.

“At the end of the year we will be a position to be producing vaccine,” said Champagne.

Currently Canada is reliant on Europe for all its COVID-19 vaccine supply, a situation that’s becoming treacherous because the European Union has new export controls on COVID-19 vaccines to try to protect its own deliveries.

Trudeau said the oral promises he received from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Canada’s deliveries won’t be stopped by the new controls, “were enough” to reassure him.

If Canada’s deliveries aren’t interrupted, Canada’s plan is to have most Canadians vaccinated by the end of September, before the new Canadian production of Novavax’s product even starts.

Precision NanoSystems in Vancouver is building a new vaccine facility that will be the first in Canada capable of making the messenger RNA vaccines currently being used in Canada. That facility won’t be finished until 2023.