Medicago’s Canada-made COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada

Medicago’s Canada-made COVID-19 vaccine approved by Health Canada

Quebec-based company Medicago’s first Canadian COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use by Health Canada on Thursday.

The homegrown vaccine, called Covifenz, is the world’s first plant-based vaccine approved for human use and also the first approved Canadian vaccine in over 20 years.

The vaccine was approved for people between the ages of 18 and 64 after clinical trials showed a 71 percent effectiveness rate in protecting study participants in that age group from COVID-19, Health Canada said in a news release.

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The stitch, which is currently only approved in Canada, was also 100 percent effective against serious illnesses caused by COVID-19, said Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, at a news conference on Thursday.

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“The vaccine’s active ingredient consists of particles that mimic the spike protein that causes COVID-19,” she said. “The virus-like particles are grown in plants that resemble tobacco plants, which can produce large amounts of the virus particles in a short period of time.”

“As with all other COVID-19 vaccines, it is not possible to contract COVID-19 with this vaccine.”

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The final phase of the data, which included 30,000 volunteers, was submitted for regulatory review by Health Canada in December last year, the company previously announced.

The vaccine is a two-dose regimen to be given 21 days apart based on evidence from clinical trials.

“This is fantastic news. We’ve been developing this technology for over 20 years, starting as a small biotech, and today we’re the result of 20 years of work,” said Marc Andre D’Aoust, Executive Vice President of Innovation, Development and Medical Affairs at Medicago.

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He added that a production facility is also under construction in Quebec, which is expected to be ready in 2024, to expand production capacity and meet market demand.

“It’s being built to make this vaccine, but it can make other vaccines as well. Like flu, when a flu vaccine is needed,” D’Aoust said.

Not only is the company in the midst of developing a third booster vaccine, but it is also developing a vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron variant. The study focuses on what benefits an Omicron-based vaccine would bring compared to the current one.

Although the decision on exactly how the Covifenz vaccine will be distributed isn’t up to Medicago, D’Aoust said the vaccine is stable at refrigerated temperature — an advantage for global distribution.

On Thursday, Dr. However, Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, that this vaccine will be used for global distribution could not provide specific details.

Because the vaccine is plant-based, unlike influenza and MMR vaccines, which are cultured in chicken eggs, its technology allows for faster production.

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Plants are key for Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate

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“The facility basically acts as a factory to make the spike protein,” said Dr. Scott Halperin, director of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, previously told Global News.

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After injection, the plant forms VLPs known as “virus-like particles.”

“The person who gets that sees it as, ‘Oh, that looks like a virus,'” Halperin said. “It’s not a virus that can infect you because it’s just a plant capsule surrounding the spike protein, but because the immune system is tricked into seeing it as a virus particle, it responds very well.”

Although VLP technology has already been recognized as an effective platform, particularly for HPV vaccines, the development of VLPs in plants for use in a commercial vaccine has never been undertaken.

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Last year, the CEO and president of Medicago from 2017 to December 2020 told Global News that the company has been asking the federal government for money for years to help prepare for a pandemic and develop an at-home manufacturing facility.

A Global News analysis of the Federal Lobby Register last year shows that from 2017 to March 2020, when the pandemic was declared, Medicago officials met 24 times with government officials to discuss “partnerships and funding to support the research, development and commercialization of Vaccines”. and to prepare for “future outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases.”

Nationwide, 84 percent of people five years and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 540,069 cases of the virus currently active.

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