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Feds announce multi-million dollar plan to fund vaccine research to tackle novel coronavirus

Last Updated Mar 23, 2020 at 10:22 am PDT

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. Canadian researchers are making multiple breakthroughs in the fight against COVID-19, as a biotech firm take the firsts steps towards a vaccine and a hospital in Ottawa opened a drive-thru screening centre. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
Summary

The federal government is investing $192-million on COVID-19 research

The money will go toward a number of companies, including Vancouver-based AbCellera

Trudeau noted a vaccine will not be developed over night, and that one could take months to be developed and tested

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – In a bid to come up with a solution to the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government has announced plans to spend $192-million on research domestically.

That money will go toward a number of companies, including Vancouver-based AbCellera.

“We’re investing in a long-term solution to COVID-19 right here at home,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. “Our government will be signing an agreement with Vancouver-based AbCellera to support their work on drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19.”

The government is also working with Quebec City-based Medicago, as well as the University of Saskatchewan, where the school’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization is working on treatment development and clinical trials, Trudeau added.

“Canada needs the capacity to mass-produce treatments as quickly as possible,” he said. “That’s why we’re investing in the National Research Council of Canada’s facility in Montreal to prepare for the roll out.”

While he highlighted the importance of taking these steps, Trudeau noted a vaccine will not be developed over night, and that one could take months to be developed and tested.

Progress has already been made, the prime minister noted, pointing out Toronto group BlueDot was among the first to identify the spread of the virus, “coming in nine days ahead of the World Health Organization’s public warning.”

“We’ve signed a contract to use this Canadian software to model the disease,” he said, adding it will help track and “therefore slow” the spread of the virus.

Meanwhile, according to Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains, Medicago has already found a potential vaccine against the virus.

Ottawa has already put out the call to companies nation-wide which are willing and able to help ramp up production of things like face masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer. A number of companies which don’t normally produce these products are among those helping in the fight against COVID-19.

There are more than 340,000 cases of COVID-19 around the world, in 189 countries.

On Monday, Canada’s top doctor said there were more than 1,470 cases in this country, including 20 deaths related to the coronavirus.

She urged Canadians, as did the prime minister, to continue to practise social distancing to help stem the spread of the virus.