The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Center (VIDO-InterVac) said on Monday that a candidate vaccine it had developed had proven “very effective” in preclinical trials in ferrets.
VIDO-InterVac said ferrets received two immunizations before being exposed to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The potential vaccine has induced a strong immune response, generated neutralizing antibodies, and decreased viral infection in the upper respiratory tract to “almost undetectable levels,” the center said.
He said several more trials are planned in the coming months, including safety studies to prepare for human clinical trials this fall.
Center director Dr Volker Gerdts said it is likely that this candidate will be vaccinated someday.
“Oh, very likely,” he said. “We have deliberately chosen a well-known, well-established and proven technology.”
Gerdts said he hoped the vaccine would be ready under emergency clearance in the first half of 2021 for the poorest populations.
“Honestly, we don’t know yet,” he said.
Target populations could include frontline health workers or the elderly, he said. The general public should probably wait longer for the vaccine.
“I think it will take a little longer,” he said. “Probably the summer of next year. “
The candidate vaccine was developed from the team’s previous research on other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS, the center said.
VIDO-InterVac is also working on a vaccine manufacturing plant that will be GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified to support vaccine production capacity in Canada, he said.
In addition to developing the COVID-19 vaccine, he is working with research groups around the world to test antivirals and therapies for COVID-19.
Since the beginning of March, VIDO-InterVac has received more than $ 50 million in federal and provincial funding for research related to COVID-19.
“It has been very helpful,” said Gerdts of the funding. “It basically allows us to do all of these things in parallel, so we don’t have to wait for an activity to be completed. “
The center said it was the first laboratory in Canada to isolate SARS-CoV-2 and the first laboratory in the country to establish an animal model for testing vaccines, antivirals and therapeutics.