Canada signs first deal for manufacture of foreign COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends a news conference at Rideau Cottage, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada January 19, 2021. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canada, under pressure over the slow pace of inoculations against COVID-19, has signed its first deal to allow a foreign vaccine to be manufactured domestically, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.

Trudeau said the Novavax Inc vaccine – still awaiting approval from Canadian regulators – would be produced in a new government facility in Montreal that is due to be finished later this year.

“This is a major step forward to get vaccines made in Canada, for Canadians. … We need as much domestic capacity for vaccine production as possible,” he told reporters. Canada has a deal to buy 52 million doses of the Novavax vaccine.

Last week Novavax submitted its candidate to Canadian regulators after the U.S.-based company announced it was 89% effective in a British trial. Canada is also examining vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca PLC.

Canada’s inoculation campaign involves doses from Pfizer Inc/BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, which have temporarily cut supplies as a result of manufacturing problems. This angered some of Canada’s main provinces, which are calling on Trudeau to get tougher with the companies.

Canada has so far reported a total of 783,589 cases and 20,136 deaths as a second wave of the disease sweeps the country.

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