Canada has signed its first deal to permit a foreign coronavirus vaccine to be produced domestically, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said as cases began to drop steadily. The Novavax Inc vaccine, still awaiting approval from Canadian regulators, will be manufactured in a new government facility in Montreal that is due to be finished later this year.
Canada has no major vaccination production capacity and Trudeau’s Liberal government is under pressure over the slow speed of vaccinations. “This is a major step forward to get vaccines made in Canada, for Canadians,” Trudeau told reporters. Canada has a deal to purchase 52 million doses of the vaccine from the U.S.-based Novavax.
Canada has so far reported a total of 783,589 cases and 20,136 deaths as a second wave sweep the country, forcing regions to shut down businesses and reduce social gatherings. Average new daily cases have dropped to 4,368 from around 8,400 three weeks ago, chief public health office Theresa Tam told reporters, making clear the closings needed to remain in place for now.
Although the new government facility would not be ready until towards the end of the year, it is estimated that all Canadians will be vaccinated by some time in September. Ottawa would give C$25 million to Vancouver-based biotechnology company Precisions NanoSystems. The firm intends to build a facility capable of making 240 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine a year when it starts operating in March 2023.