Dr. Joanne Langley, professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University and Head of Infectious Diseases at the IWK Health Centre, has been named co-lead of the task force. Dr. Langley is Dalhousie University’s CIHR-GSK Chair in Pediatric Vaccinology. It is the only chair of its kind in the country.
“It was truly an honor to be asked to serve the national COVID-19 response in this way,“ says Dr. Langley. “Together, with an amazing team, we have been working since early June to find safe and effective vaccines to protect Canadians. To do that we have been prioritizing potential Canadian COVID-19 vaccine projects, identifying non-Canadian vaccine candidates, and working on solutions for domestic manufacturing.”
The announcement was made by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development), and the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, alongside several measures being taken by the Government of Canada to secure a future supply of COVID-19 vaccine and therapies.
The Government of Canada is aggressively pursuing the purchase and development of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and related supplies to protect Canadians, and working to strengthen Canada’s biomanufacturing sector. This includes engaging with international and domestic scientists, and with businesses and manufacturers stepping up to fight COVID-19. The Government of Canada is investing in projects that will position Canada at the forefront of the global race to find a treatment and vaccine for COVID-19, while building domestic capabilities to fight future pandemics.
Leading with expertise
The Vaccine Task Force includes vaccine and immunology experts, as well as industry leaders with a proven ability in developing and commercializing vaccines. Dr. Langley will co-chair the task force with Mark Lievonen, Director of Quest PharmaTech Inc., Acerus Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Biome Grow Inc., and the Gairdner Foundation and former President of Sanofi Pasteur Limited in Canada.
Task Force members have reviewed vaccine and bio-manufacturing applications from domestic candidates for which it has provided advice to the Ministers of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Health on the most promising options aimed at providing Canadians with safe, effective vaccines as soon as possible, as well as a robust manufacturing sector to increase our secure access to vaccine production. The Task Force has also provided scientific and technical advice to the government on a portfolio of leading international vaccine candidates.
“The Government is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. That’s why we are working hard on all possible fronts to deliver safe and effective treatments and vaccines against COVID-19 for Canadians as fast as possible,” says The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Guided by the expertise of these task forces… we are leaving no stone unturned in exploring every promising option to enhance our research and development capacity for long-term emergency preparedness.”
Among the government’s announcements was an investment of more than $3 million for Nova Scotia-based IMV Inc to advance clinical development of its vaccine candidate for the prevention of COVID-19 infection, and more than $19 million in funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), to leverage the expertise of researchers in the natural sciences and engineering and their partners across Canada to address this unprecedented crisis.
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