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Canada Canada's 'glaring' vaccine production gaps took homemade vaccine candidates off the table

00:05  27 november  2020
00:05  27 november  2020 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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Canada has ordered hundreds of millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from other Canadian administrations simply took their “eye off the ball,” said Earl Brown After that pandemic, a review found that vaccine production capacity was “right at the top” of the list of problems, he said.

Medical historian Christopher Rutty says Canada has the facilities to manufacture vaccines domestically — but those facilities are already committed to producing other vaccines .

Canada’s inability to make large numbers of vaccines quickly took some promising made-in-Canada vaccine candidates off the table, says a member of the task force that recommended which COVID-19 vaccines Canada should buy.

a close up of a bottle: Vaccine file photo © Provided by Ottawa Citizen Vaccine file photo

“When we reviewed and made recommendations about which vaccines to buy, we first and foremost looked at the science. But we also looked at whether this vaccine could actually be made in time to deal with this pandemic,” said leading scientist and task force member Alan Bernstein.

“We were concerned that we would be approving vaccines that would never get made.”

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Canada has ordered more COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita than any other country "We believe that people have a choice in Canada about whether or not to be vaccinated , but we also believe that we have an important responsibility as Canadians to take vaccinations to protect our communities

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In the end, the task force recommended the government purchase seven candidate COVID-19 vaccines, including some that have already reported successful results and at least one that could be approved by Health Canada in a matter of weeks. The sole Canadian vaccine on that list — from Quebec-based Medicago — has manufacturing facilities in the United States.

The pandemic has put Canada’s lack of capacity to make vaccines in a spotlight. The situation reflects changes in the industry in recent decades and complacency by successive federal governments going back years, said Bernstein, who is president and CEO of CIFAR, a Canadian-based global research organization. It is something that needs to be fixed before the next emergency, he said.

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“We are not going to be able to build a new national facility capable of turning out 80 million doses in a short period of time. It is not going to happen for this pandemic. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn the lesson for the next one. And there will be a next one.”

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Although the federal government has made deals to purchase more vaccine per capita than any other country in the world, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned this week that Canadians would not be at the front of the line for those vaccines because the earliest doses are all being manufactured outside of Canada.

Canada has advance purchase agreements that would total up to 414 million vaccine doses. On Thursday, federal officials said they expect six million doses of at least two or three candidate vaccines to be delivered to Canada in the first quarter of 2021. Some of those vaccines require two doses, which means the first shipments will cover a small proportion of the Canadian population and will be given to those at the highest risk.

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Vaccine Choice Canada , Winlaw, British Columbia. 16,148 likes · 569 talking about this. Politicians, media & academics must stop gaslighting innocent ppl & begin taking responsibility for their own catastrophic policies.

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Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo said early vaccine supplies will be limited, but he is hoping that every Canadian has access to one by the end of 2021.

Bernstein said a hollowing out of the pharmaceutical industry, combined with government complacency about Canada’s ability to buy vaccines offshore, left the country with little manufacturing capacity. The SARS outbreak could have spurred change, but it ended too quickly for a vaccine, he said.

“We didn’t learn lessons from SARS that we need our own capacity in Canada to make our own vaccines in case of emergency.”

But the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, has made that clear.

Bernstein said the vaccine task force became so concerned about Canada’s lack of vaccine capacity that it created a subcommittee to look into the issue and make recommendations.

Bernstein said the UK is building a facility near Oxford, a collaboration among the government, academia and industry, that would be a good model for something similar in Canada. He said it could require an investment of up to $1 billion.

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The federal government has invested millions to expand National Research Council facilities near Montreal for vaccine manufacturing. Earlier this year, it said the facility would be able to produce 250,000 vaccine doses per month as of now. But it isn’t ready.

That facility could be the start of a larger manufacturing and pandemic centre, said Bernstein. It would need to be able to manufacture vaccines using new and changing technology. He also said the facility could become a centre of pandemic preparedness, offering courses and training.

Nearly nine months into the pandemic, Bernstein said there is plenty to be optimistic about, starting with vaccine trial results from Pfizer and Moderna that are well above what he expected — with up to 95 per cent efficacy.

“To me, this is the hard part.”

Even if Canadians are not first in line to get immunized, he said, people will be vaccinated soon.

Bernstein said officials across the country need to turn their attention to the logistical challenges that distributing the various vaccines will present.

And then the country should look toward the future and “make sure we don’t get in this position again.”

epayne@postmedia.com

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