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Canada approves first clinical trial for potential COVID-19 vaccine

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-05-17 09:17
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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to a meeting of the special committee on the COVID-19 pandemic, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada May 13, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

OTTAWA - The first Canadian clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine has been officially approved, according to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Saturday.

At his press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau said the Canadian Center for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University has been given the green light by Health Canada to begin clinical trials of the vaccine candidate.

"If these vaccine trials are successful we could produce and distribute it here at home," Trudeau said. "Research and development take time, and must be done right, but this is encouraging news."

Trudeau said the National Research Council of Canada will work with the manufacturers of the potential vaccine so that it will be able to be manufactured domestically should the trials be successful.

As of Saturday afternoon, at least 75,770 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, with 5,677 deaths in the country.

Health Canada reportedly has authorized 33 clinical trials for supportive care or treatments for COVID-19 to date.

On May 12, the National Research Council of Canada announced a collaboration with CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO) to advance bioprocessing and clinical development in Canada of a candidate vaccine against COVID-19.

Referred to as Ad5-nCoV, the vaccine candidate received Chinese regulatory approval earlier this year, allowing CanSino Biologics to move ahead with human clinical trials in China.

It is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world against COVID-19 so far approved for initial safety testing in humans, and was the first candidate vaccine to begin conducting Phase II human clinical trials.

By bringing their respective technologies and expertise together to fight COVID-19, CanSino Biologics and the National Research Council of Canada are aiming to pave the way for future clinical trials in Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology. The vaccine is subject to approval by Health Canada, for which CanSinoBIO is in the process of filing a Clinical Trial Application.

The Ad5-nCoV was developed using technology from both China and Canada. It was co-developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology (BIB) and CanSino Biologics Inc. using a genetically engineered replication-defective adenovirus type 5 vector to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which is grown using living cells that were designed and developed at the National Research Council of Canada.

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