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Canadian-developed COVID vaccine in final-stage testing

Last Updated Mar 17, 2021 at 7:58 am PDT

Illustration of vaccine against coronavirus COVID-19. Photo by Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM

Medicago's plant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate is a step closer to becoming an option in the fight against the virus

Quebec-based company's COVID-19 vaccine is the only one made by Canadian company

Medicago uses plants as living factories to grow virus-like particles, which mimic spike protein that coats coronavirus

TORONTO – A COVID-19 vaccine created by a Canadian company is one step closer to becoming an option.

Quebec-based Medicago says its plant-based vaccine candidate, made in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has reached the final stage of human testing. It’s the only vaccine candidate made by a Canadian company for which the federal government has deals in place.

While the first 20-million doses have been promised to Canadians, the shot has also been fast-tracked for approval in the U.S.

Medicago uses plants as living factories to grow virus-like particles, which mimic the spike protein that coats the coronavirus. British partner GSK contributes an immune-boosting chemical called an adjuvant to the vaccine.

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“We are pleased to take the significant step of initiating the Phase 3 clinical trial at sites around the world,” said Takashi Nagao, CEO and president of Medicago. “This brings us one step closer to delivering an important new COVID-19 vaccine and contributing to the global fight against the pandemic along with our partner GSK.”

The drug maker is currently looking for adult volunteers to take part in its Canadian trial and also hopes to run trial sites in several other countries. The company says it plans to enroll up to 30,000 subjects “initially composed of healthy adults” between the ages of 18 and 65 to start, before including elderly adults — those over the age of 65 — as well as adults with underlying health conditions.

Live map: COVID-19 vaccination trackers in Canada and the world

While numerous COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out around the world, global health authorities are looking to additional candidates in the pipeline in hopes of eventually increasing the supply.

So far, Canada has approved four vaccines for emergency use in this country; the ones made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.