Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that millions of Novavax COVID-19 shots will be produced at National Research Council’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal starting this summer.

The Maryland-based biotechnology company submitted its vaccine to Health Canada for regulatory approval last Friday.

“This is a major step forward to get vaccines made in Canada, for Canadians…. We need as much domestic capacity for vaccine production as possible,” Trudeau said. “We won’t rest until every Canadian who wants a vaccine has received one.”

Canada agreed to purchase vaccines from Novavax last August. The federal government later increased that purchase agreement, committing to buy at least 76 million doses of the two-dose product, according to a company statement.

Novavax has said its protein-based COVID-19 vaccine product produced an efficacy rate of 89.3 per cent in late stage clinical trials, with strong protection against the strain of the virus first reported in the U.K., which has shown to be more resistant to other vaccine candidates.

Novavax plans to produce its COVID-19 vaccine at the National Research Council’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal once both the vaccine candidate and the facility receive Health Canada approvals. The memorandum of understanding also includes a broader intention for the Government of Canada and Novavax to work together to increase the company’s Canadian presence. They will explore a range of partnership opportunities for Novavax to expand vaccine production in Canada, including partnerships with Canadian contract manufacturers.

The prime minister also announced investments in biomanufacturing projects to “bring back the vaccine manufacturing capacity that Canadians expect and need.”

The commitment involves an investment of up to to $25.1 million to Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI), a Vancouver-based biotechnology company, to expand our ability to produce ribonucleic acid vaccines and future genetic medicines in Canada. PNI will build a $50.2 million biomanufacturing centre to produce vaccines and therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as infectious diseases, rare diseases, cancer and other areas of unmet need.

The second investment includes up to $14 million to Edesa Biotech Inc. (Edesa), a biopharmaceutical company based in Markham, Ontario, to advance work on a monoclonal antibody therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is the leading cause of COVID-19 deaths. Edesa’s $18.7 million project has received Health Canada approval to conduct its phase 2 clinical trials, and has begun administering its treatment to clinical trial participants in Canada.

“Today, we are investing in our biomanufacturing capacity so that we have the made-in-Canada vaccines and treatments we need to protect Canadians, now and in the future, and recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Trudeau said.

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