Canada announced $23.3 million in total support for the University of Saskatchewan's (USask) Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization - International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac), one of the largest and most advanced infectious disease research facilities in the world.
As part of the government's $275-million fund for COVID-19 health research, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that VIDO-InterVac will receive $12 million to help address Canada's shortage of vaccine manufacturing capacity, as well as $11.3 million for continued operational funding for high containment laboratories over the coming year.
"This new federal funding recognizes that VIDO-InterVac is at the forefront of global efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 and other infectious disease threats," said USask Vice-President of Research Karen Chad. "This is critical work at VIDO-InterVac that will help protect the health and safety of all Canadians, as well as people around the world."
VIDO-InterVac is constructing a pilot-scale manufacturing facility on campus to accelerate vaccine development in Canada and abroad.
InterVac is part of the national and global response to emerging disease threats such as COVID-19 in humans and African swine fever in animals," said Gerdts, who is participating in three World Health Organization expert groups on animal model and vaccine development for COVID-19.
As one of the few Canadian research facilities with regulatory approval to work on the new virus, VIDO-InterVac was the first lab in the country to isolate the virus. This was done over five weeks ago, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Sunnybrook. The isolated virus was made available to federal and provincial laboratories.
VIDO-InterVac is also the first lab in Canada, and one of the very few in the world, to establish an animal model for COVID-19. Suitable animal models are critical to evaluate vaccines, antivirals and therapeutics. The lab's animal model is now available to industry and academic partners from around the world.