“We need to make a substantial investment to ensure that Canada is well positioned to guarantee access to vaccines or vaccines that are successful,” Anand said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
‘Bet on several horses at the same time’
“The way we do this is to bet on multiple horses at the same time to make sure that when one or more of those horses cross the finish line we have access to these vaccines,” she said. .
Canada has signed deals with Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and now Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, all of which are among the most promising vaccines, but none of them have completed all of the required clinical trials or have has been approved for use in Canada.
On September 3, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said their vaccine candidate will begin Phase 1/2 trials, which will test it on 440 people. The hope is that the vaccine will be ready for the third and final phase of trials by the end of the year and approved for use in the first half of 2021.
Moderna has a vaccine in phase 3 trials, and Pfizer is in a combined phase 2 and 3 trial. Novavax is in a phase 2 trial, while Johnson & Johnson is in a phase 1/2 trial.
Most clinical trials have three phases to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine or drug under development.
Each phase of a trial adds more volunteers the drug is tested on, looking for adverse health effects and indicating whether the vaccine causes a person to develop antibodies that can protect against COVID-19.
More antiviral drugs are also guaranteed
Anand said Canada has also signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada to obtain 150,000 vials of remdesivir, the only antiviral drug that has been shown to be effective in treating patients with COVID-19. Health Canada approved the drug for use in patients with COVID-19 at the end of July.
Doses will start arriving in Canadian hospitals this month.
Canada has also joined the international vaccination cooperative known as the COVAX Facility, which brings together rich countries and low- and middle-income countries to collectively invest in doses of vaccines.
He has not yet announced the amount of his contribution, a figure which was due to arrive last week but which has been delayed. Now, Anand says Canada remains committed to COVAX and more details will be available soon.
Canada has chosen to participate in both components of the COVAX program. The first is for any country to join to get access to vaccines, and the second is a rich country fund to help low income countries participate.
The Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and the Canadian Society for International Health have both criticized Canada for acting to purchase doses of vaccine for itself, hampering efforts to ensure that successful vaccines are distributed. fairly in the world.
GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said Monday that 64 rich countries had joined the COVAX Facility, including Canada. The United States did not join.