Saskatoon lab receives Health Canada authorization for COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial

VIDO says it has reached a milestone in developing a coronavirus vaccine.

The Saskatoon-based lab at the University of Saskatchewan received the green light from Health Canada to start Phase 1 of its clinical vaccine trials.

“The approval to initiate a human clinical trial is a milestone for VIDO,” Dr. Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), said in a statement Tuesday.

“This is the first of our two COVID-19 subunit vaccines in development and demonstrates the quality of our research, development and partnerships.”

Read more: USask’s Vido-InterVac nearing human clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccine

Gerdts said it is possible VIDO could have one of its vaccines ready to use by late 2021.

“To have sustainable long-term vaccine access, I think it’s important for Canada to continue on with its own vaccines,” Gerdts said.

“COVID-19 is not going to go away.”

The authorization allows the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCfV) in Halifax to begin recruiting volunteers for clinical trials.

CCfV anticipates volunteers will be vaccinated in January.

“This is the first university-based COVID-19 vaccine to begin Phase 1 testing at CCfV. The purpose of this trial is to demonstrate the safety of the vaccine in humans,” said CCfV director Dr. Scott Halperin.

Read more: USask’s VIDO-InterVac team collaborating with other universities to develop COVID-19 vaccine

The Saskatoon lab is using a protein called subunit, which is currently used in a number of vaccines for humans — hepatitis, diphtheria, and whooping cough — for its COVID-19 vaccine development.

These vaccines have an excellent safety profile, are relatively stable and have not required ultra-cold storage temperatures, VIDO said in a statement.

VIDO was the first lab in Canada to isolate the novel coronavirus and create an animal model where the virus could be handled and a vaccine could be tested.

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