Coronavirus Canada Updates: Saskatchewan-made COVID vaccine begins clinical trial

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Coronavirus Canada Updates: Waterloo Region adds 61 new COVID-19 cases Monday as hospitalizations

The made-in-Saskatchewan COVID-19 vaccine has entered clinical trials.

Dr. Volker Gerdts, the CEO of Saskatoon’s VIDO-InterVac, told the Brent Loucks Show on Monday the first phase of the trial has begun with volunteers receiving their final checks before receiving their shots.

“Each of them has to have an interview, a visit, a full blood test and a screen for other infectious diseases. Once all of that is completed, which is the first phase of this trial, you can begin immunizations,” said Gerdts. “That will happen next Monday or Tuesday.”

While the vaccine candidate was developed in the VIDO-InterVac lab, the clinical trial has been handed off to another group of scientists at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Gerdts said as the most recognized site in Canada, it offers the fastest path for the VIDO vaccine.

“They have the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology and so they have more than four decades of experience running clinical trials for vaccines,” he said.

“There’s a lot of expertise, knowledge and confidence that the regulators have in that site, which is very important if you want to move quickly.”

VIDO vaccine vs. Others

VIDO’s vaccine is protein-based, unlike the RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

RNA is a new vaccine technology that teaches cells how to make a protein which then triggers an immune response inside the body.

Gerdts believes both types of vaccines will be effective, but if given the choice, he would choose a protein-based one over the RNA.

“This is a proven technology that we know for decades (works). We know it’s safe and we know there are no unwanted effects to it,” he said.

“I think where the protein vaccines will have an advantage is they will protect better against these new variants.”

Gerdts said protein vaccines are easier to manufacture and don’t require extreme low-temperature storage, making them more cost effective.

The most advanced protein-based vaccine is from Novavax, which submitted its request to Health Canada for regulatory approval on Friday. The company has said its vaccine was 89 per cent effective in the U.K. clinical trial.

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