OTTAWA: The Canadian government has signed new deals with pharmaceutical firms Pfizer Canada and Moderna (Germany’s BioNTech SE) to secure millions of doses in 2021 of their coronavirus vaccine candidates that each company is currently developing.
Minister of Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand made the announcement on Wednesday morning. “We are increasingly focused on the next stage of our recovery, including preparing Canada for mass vaccinations,” said Anand in a press conference, stressing the need to diversify supply chains.
“Today we are taking an important step forward. The contracts reflect the requirement for Health Canada approval, and in particular, once that has occurred, we are expecting deliveries, if all goes well, in 2021,” Anand said.
Innovation and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains added at the press conference that the government will also be injecting more funding into both vaccine research as well as research into treatments in the form of a new task force.
“Until we can immunize all Canadians, we must also focus on treatments for those who contract the virus,” said Bains, adding no decision has been made on whether any vaccine would be mandatory.
Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed, but the terms were based on the timing of delivery and the volume of doses.
As requested by the Government of Canada, deliveries of the vaccine candidate are planned for over the course of 2021. Bains unveiled the members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, who are advising the Government on how best to support vaccine research in Canada and help ensure Canadian leadership in vaccine development, related bio-manufacturing and international partnerships to secure access for Canadians to safe and effective products.
The Vaccine Task Force includes vaccine and immunology experts, as well as industry leaders with a proven ability in developing and commercializing vaccines. The co-chairs are
Joanne Langley, Head of Infectious Diseases at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax and Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, and J.
Mark Lievonen, former President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited in Canada. Task Force members have reviewed vaccine and bio-manufacturing applications from domestic candidates for which it has provided advice to the ministers of ISED and Health on the most promising options aimed at providing Canadians with safe, effective vaccines as soon as possible,
as well as a robust manufacturing sector to increase secure access to vaccine production.
The Task Force has also provided scientific and technical advice to the government on a
portfolio of leading international vaccine candidates.
Minister Anand announced that the Government entered into the two agreements following the careful review and recommendation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.
Pfizer will supply its BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine candidate, while Moderna will provide its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate. All potential vaccines will require Health Canada regulatory approval prior to being used to vaccinate Canadians. Active negotiations with other potential vaccine suppliers are also under way.
The Government is negotiating and signing agreements with a number of leading pharmaceutical companies to establish a guaranteed supply base of potential vaccine candidates.
“We continue to be committed to partnering with the Canadian government to help fight this pandemic and are pleased with their collaborative approach to addressing a national COVID-19 immunization strategy with public health officials,” said Cole C. Pinnow, President, Pfizer Canada.
“In the face of this global health crisis, Pfizer’s purpose – breakthroughs that change patients’ lives – has taken on an even greater urgency,” said Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO, Pfizer. “We’re harnessing our scientific expertise.”
“Our teams are working diligently to advance the lead product candidate through clinical development in order to seek regulatory review as early as October. At the same time, Pfizer and BioNTech continue to scale up manufacturing capacities to be able to produce up to 100m doses in 2020 and more than one billion doses in 2021,” said Sean Marett, Chief Business and Chief Commercial Officer at BioNTech.
Recently, two of the companies’ four investigational vaccine candidates – BNT162b1 and
BNT162b2 – received Fast Track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This designation was granted based on preliminary data from Phase 1/2 studies that are currently ongoing in the United States and Germany as well as animal immunogenicity studies.
Assuming clinical success, Pfizer and BioNTech are on track to seek regulatory review for
BNT162b2 as early as October 2020 and, if regulatory authorization or approval is obtained, plan to supply up to 100 million doses worldwide by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
Ottawa is also extended support of more than $3 million for Nova Scotia-based IMV Inc. to
advance clinical development of its vaccine candidate for the prevention of COVID-19.
The Vaccine Task Force will be in place for at least twelve months, and the Therapeutics Task Force for at least six months, subject to extension at the discretion of the Government
of Canada. Both task forces meet regularly as needed.