Firm picked by Ottawa to supply made-in-Canada vaccines warns it might exit of enterprise

Firm picked by Ottawa to supply made-in-Canada vaccines warns it might exit of enterprise

The federal Liberal authorities’s COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing coverage is going through yet one more problem after Maryland-based Novavax introduced late Tuesday it might not have sufficient money in a yr’s time to remain in enterprise.

Meaning three pillars of the federal government’s made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine procurement technique have failed or may quickly fail.

Along with this new hiccup with cash-strapped Novavax, there was the doomed take care of China-based CanSino and a significant funding within the now-defunct Medicago.

The federal government did, nonetheless, efficiently procure tens of thousands and thousands of COVID-19 doses from international corporations like Pfizer and Moderna, corporations that equipped extremely efficient pictures which have saved an untold variety of Canadians from extreme outcomes and loss of life.

The federal government has lengthy promised it is going to produce Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine on the Nationwide Analysis Council (NRC) Royalmount web site in Montreal — a publicly owned facility in a rustic that has seen vaccine manufacturing all however disappear after many years of mismanagement and altering economics.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned in 2020, on the top of the pandemic, that the nation would produce Canadian-made pictures at a brand new purpose-built facility at Royalmount by the tip of that yr. That by no means occurred after a plan to work with CanSino fell by means of.

Then, in early 2021, Trudeau introduced the partnership with Novavax, saying the NRC’s biologics manufacturing centre would churn out the U.S. firm’s COVID-19 shot by “mid-2021.” The plan was billed as a approach to reduce Canada’s dependence on international sources of pictures.

As CBC Information has beforehand reported, the NRC plant nonetheless hasn’t produced a single vial of the Novavax vaccine.

Whereas the biologics centre is constructed and Well being Canada has approved the Novavax shot to be used in Canada, the NRC web site nonetheless is not producing vaccines at scale — the advanced regulatory and scientific course of hasn’t been accomplished on the federal government’s bold timeline.

WATCH: Canada nonetheless with out vaccine plant regardless of federal guarantees

Canada nonetheless with out vaccine plant regardless of federal guarantees

One yr after it was supposed to start producing vaccines for Canada, the government-funded Montreal manufacturing facility sits idle and continues to face regulation hurdles.

Novavax’s warning Tuesday that it has “substantial doubt” about its skill to remain in enterprise after the following yr may derail the federal authorities’s plan fully.

“Whereas our present money movement forecast for the one-year going concern, look-forward interval estimates that we’ve got ample capital out there to fund operations, this forecast is topic to important uncertainty, together with because it pertains to 2023 income, funding from the U.S. authorities, and pending arbitration,” Novavax mentioned in a press release whereas releasing its fourth-quarter outcomes.

“Given these uncertainties, substantial doubt exists concerning our skill to proceed as a going concern by means of one yr from the date that these monetary statements are issued,” the corporate mentioned.

A vial of a COVID-19 vaccine is pictured.
A vial of the Section 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine is seen on this file picture. The Maryland-based firm has warned it might run out of money. (Alastair Grant/The Related Press)

In an interview with Reuters after saying the monetary outcomes, the corporate’s CEO mentioned the corporate has been spending at a “scorching fee,” and it plans to chop again — together with doable job cuts.

CBC Information requested Novavax if it plans to proceed its work with the NRC given the state of the corporate’s funds. In a press release, the corporate mentioned it is going to press forward.

“We proceed to work with NRC on the manufacturing of our COVID-19 vaccine and manufacturing of course of efficiency qualification batches is anticipated to start in early 2023,” mentioned the corporate’s spokesperson.

A spokesperson for Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne mentioned the federal government “will proceed to observe the state of affairs concerning Novavax” and recommended the NRC web site may very well be used to fabricate different vaccines from totally different corporations.

“Constructed forward of schedule, the Biologics Manufacturing Centre is able to industrial, end-to-end manufacturing of cell-based vaccines — for regardless of the future might maintain,” Laurie Bouchard mentioned in a press release to CBC Information.

“The centre can host a number of companions, help a variety of biomanufacturing actions, and is able to producing as much as 2 million doses per thirty days, relying on the vaccine candidate,” she mentioned.

A National Research Council site is pictured in Montreal.
The Nationwide Analysis Council facility is seen in Montreal. The power was speculated to be producing Novavax doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 2021. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Christine Jodoin, the vice-president of strategic initiatives on the NRC, mentioned the federal analysis physique will “proceed to work with Novavax Inc., on the manufacturing of the corporate’s COVID-19 vaccine, Nuvaxovid.”

Jodoin mentioned there could also be different companions — and different merchandise — for the positioning sooner or later.

The federal government-owned manufacturing facility “can pivot to supply cell-based vaccines or different medicine to maintain Canadians protected.”

The Novavax growth follows information final month that Quebec-based Medicago, one other COVID-19 vaccine producer, will shut down.

As soon as billed as a Canadian success story, Medicago’s dad or mum firm mentioned it did not see a future for the Quebec agency regardless of important taxpayer funding.

The federal authorities gave Medicago almost $200 million to construct a plant in Quebec Metropolis to fabricate COVID-19 pictures.

The federal government additionally signed an advance buy settlement with the corporate to obtain tens of thousands and thousands of doses.

Bouchard defended the federal government’s document on the vaccine file.

“At first of the pandemic, our authorities acted shortly to make sure Canadians had entry to essentially the most promising COVID vaccines as early as doable,” Bouchard mentioned.

“Due to our fast and decisive actions, we had been in a position to make sure Canada had sufficient vaccines for each Canadian and we had been capable of scale up home biomanufacturing capability after 40 years in decline,” she mentioned.

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