Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, and Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responded to questions on Monday about Canada’s ability to produce a vaccine, once one has been discovered.
Dr. Tam said there are about 100 different vaccine candidates being looked at and some are going into the early clinical trial stage. She added that evaluations are being done to gauge what is in the realm of possible in Canada for developing and producing a vaccine, in addition to the process of vaccinating the population.
“The whole pipeline from beginning to end is being looked at,” Dr. Tam said. “We need to look at every option.”
When asked about the possibility of reducing the amount of flu vaccine produced in Canada to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, once one is identified, Minister Hajdu said “we can’t keep our eye off influenza.”
“[The coinciding] of the flu season with a second spike of COVID, for example, could be very difficult for our healthcare system,” she said. “From my perspective as health minister, I don’t think what we would want to be in the position to do is decrease the production of an extremely valuable, extremely important vaccine to increase the production of another.”
Hajdu said the goal is to increase capacity of vaccine production across Canada, with Dr. Tam adding that the the COVID-19 vaccine may not be grown on the same platform as the influenza vaccine, which would have separate production requirements.