Earlier this week, the Federal Government of Canada had announced it has entered two agreements to secure millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines to be ready for distribution across Canada in 2021.
According to the announcements of Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand, the Canadian government signed deals with both pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and biotechnology firm Moderna.
Pfizer agreed to supply the country with its BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate, while Moderna will be providing its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate.
“Pfizer is evaluating at least four experimental vaccine candidates and is currently undergoing clinical trials. These trials are occurring in various countries including Germany and the United States and they’re already exhibiting promising results,” said Minister Anand during a news conference along with Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains.
“However, there is more work to do. Any potential vaccine candidate will take time to develop, properly test, mass manufacture and distribute.”
Although details of how many doses Canada would purchase under the deal or how much money would be spent was not disclosed during the press conference, Minister Anand said the government is currently in negotiation with other international and domestic firms about purchasing additional doses of other vaccine candidates.
“These agreements with Moderna and Pfizer are indicative of our aggressive approach to secure access to vaccine candidates now so that Canadians are at the front of the line when a vaccine becomes available,” said the Public Services and Procurement Minister.
Last month, it was announced by Public Services and Procurement Canada that the country issued bids to supply 75 million syringes and other vaccine administration supplies like alcohol swabs and bandages, to be delivered by the end of October.
The goal of the purchase was to gather enough supplies to give every Canadian at least two doses of a vaccine.
While both companies are still undergoing testing and the final approval from Health Canada, Minister Anand expects that Pfizer and Moderna to begin delivering their vaccines, if approved, sometime in 2021.
“We have to remember that these suppliers are at various stages of vaccine development. It is important for Canadians to know that we are taking an approach to contractual negotiations that builds in flexibility for us to be able to increase orders,” said Minister Anand.
“In the weeks to come, I will hope to be disclosing further information.”
Pfizer and Moderna potential COVID-19 Vaccines in Final Stage, Phase 3, of Clinical Testing
Both companies have reportedly begun Phase 3 clinical trials of their vaccine candidates in the past week which included large-scale tests to determine how well the vaccines work.
They are among more than 166 vaccines at various stages of preclinical and clinical (human) testing across the world according to the World Health Organization.
While vaccine development normally takes years, even decades, both U.S and European experts say that under an optimistic scenario, the first rounds of COVID-19 vaccines could complete testing and get approval for distribution by next year.
Pfizer and Moderna are part of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed program to facilitate the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines quickly.
Pfizer said on July 22 that it has a US$1.95-billion agreement to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. government, with an option for 500 million more.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a conference call Wednesday that small amounts of its vaccine have been priced between US$32 and US$37 a dose, but that the price would be lower for big orders.
Pfizer also said it expects it can produce 100 million doses of its vaccine by the end of December, and another 1.3 billion doses in 2021.
Last month both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials. Moderna’s vaccine was tested on 45 healthy adults between 18 and 55 years old in a Phase 1 trial in May and June, and reported a strong immune response in all people, with mild or moderate side effects such as fatigue, fever and body aches.
The Phase 3 trials will test both vaccines on 30,000 people, and results are expected in the fall.
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