The Canadian government is making moves to strengthen Canada’s vaccine manufacturing capacity — but it won’t happen anytime soon.
The Federal Government announced on Wednesday a $415 million grant, which will help Sanofi build a new vaccine production facility in Toronto, which would eventually have the tools to produce, fill-and-finish, and inspect vaccines on a large scale.
Sanofi, which already has a manufacturing location in North York, Ont., will also receive $55 million from the Ontario government. The company itself will provide more than $455 million to create and maintain 1,225 jobs, and invest at least $79 million a year to fund Canadian research and development.
Influenza vaccines will be the main product produced at the new Toronto facility.
The government says, once completed, the plant will have the capacity to produce enough vaccine doses to “support the entire Canadian population within approximately six months” of a global influenza-strain pandemic being declared.
As it’s not expected to be completed until 2027, the project is being touted as an important addition to Canada’s future pandemic preparedness.
The investment does not include an actual contract for Sanofi to produce vaccines for Canada at this time, but Champagne said negotiations are taking place. He said the size of the investment doesn’t mean the facility will be built overnight, that it’ll take time before all the pieces come together.
In a normal year, Canada imports about 85 per cent of its vaccines – a huge shift from the 1970s, when Canada manufactured the vast majority of its vaccines.
Sanofi has dipped into COVID-19 vaccines as well, specifically the highly effective mRNA-based vaccines.
Earlier this year the company agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson — both of which have been approved for use in Canada.
Last month, the company joined GlaxoSmithKline to launch a new clinical trial of a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which was hit by a delay late last year.
It has also launched a separate human trial of an mRNA vaccine candidate with Translate Bio.
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