Canada within ‘weeks’ of decision on Novavax, Medicago vaccines

Health Canada will complete its reviews of Novavax and Medicago’s COVID-19 vaccines “in the coming weeks,” according to the agency’s deputy minister.

“Health Canada’s dedicated approvals teams for each submission work very hard on this. They rely on information from the companies to complete these reviews, but we expect to make decisions about both vaccines in the coming weeks,” Health Canada Deputy Minister Stephen Lucas said Tuesday before questions from lawmakers in the House of Commons Health Committee.

If authorized by the federal regulator, these vaccines would be the first Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccines.

While Novavax is a Maryland-based company, in February 2021 — under pressure from depleted domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity in Canada — the federal government signed a deal with Novavax to manufacture their COVID-19 vaccine at a new facility in Montreal. This facility opened this summer with the goal of producing vaccines in early 2022. Health Canada has been reviewing Novavax’s protein-based COVID-19 vaccine since January 2021.

Medicago, which is headquartered in Quebec, has had its COVID-19 vaccine reviewed by Health Canada since April 2021. The federal government has allocated $173 million for the COVID-19 herbal vaccine candidate and eventual Canadian production of the same in Quebec City.

NDP MP Don Davies and Conservative MP Ryan Williams both inquired about the status of those reviews at Tuesday’s meeting, citing interest in Canadian-made options and other offerings to potentially address the vaccination delay.

the government has contracts Backing up to 76 million doses each of the Medicago and Novavax vaccines should the need arise.

When asked at the meeting how soon Canadian production of COVID-19 vaccines could begin, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was unable to answer.

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