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At the onset of the pandemic, the government invested in two separate vaccine manufacturing facilities, one at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac facility and the other at a National Research Council facility in Montreal. .
The Montreal plant received $ 44 million for upgrades and then an additional $ 126 million in August to build a manufacturing facility that will eventually be able to produce millions of doses per month. The Saskatchewan plant received $ 12 million for its manufacturing capacity.
Dr Paul Hodgson, associate manager of the Saskatchewan plant, said they hope to have their manufacturing capacity ready by the end of 2021, but it is a complex process and bringing the l equipment takes time even after construction is complete.
“It’s not a situation right now where we can take technology that other people have and use it and that’s unfortunate,” he said.
He said in hindsight that it would have been ideal to get funding years ago, but that is not the situation the country finds itself in. He said Canada should definitely learn from this situation and prepare for the next potential virus.
“What we are now realizing is that due to a supply chain and production capacity issue, it is very important to have domestic sourcing or domestic manufacturers or the ability to manufacture at the level national.”
Industry Minister Navdeep Bains said sadly there was no simple solution to increasing manufacturing.
“We have to recognize that building these complex bio-manufacturing facilities takes time,” he said.
At the start of the pandemic, Canada produced virtually no personal protective equipment within our borders. Bains said the government had worked to change that and it would do the same with vaccines.
“About 50 percent of the investments we make in procurement are made in Canada solutions. We have the same mindset when it comes to strengthening our national bio-manufacturing capabilities. ”
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