Contract Signed For The Development And Testing Of A Prototype Flu Pandemic Vaccine, Canada
"The development of a prototype pandemic vaccine is an important component of our preparedness strategy," said Minister Dosanjh. "Vaccines are the most effective line of defence for reducing illness and death in the event of an influenza pandemic. The investment in the development and testing of a prototype pandemic vaccine represents a significant step towards improving our preparedness. We need to invest now in building our scientific knowledge and production capacity so that we can produce a vaccine as quickly as possible when it's needed."
A specific vaccine against a pandemic virus cannot be produced until the new strain has emerged and has been identified. In the meantime, work on the production and testing of a prototype vaccine using the H5N1 seed strain will allow the manufacturer to gain the experience needed to "ramp up" production when a pandemic happens. Production of the prototype and vaccine trials will also increase our knowledge on the appropriate formulation and number of doses needed, as well as the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
"Canada is recognized as a world leader in pandemic preparedness," said Minister of State (Public Health) Carolyn Bennett. "Work on the development of a prototype pandemic influenza vaccine is important to building Canada's capacity to respond effectively during a pandemic, and is one important part of our comprehensive plan to mitigate the outcome of an influenza pandemic."
Budget 2005 provided funding for the development and production of a prototype vaccine, and clinical trials to study the effectiveness of the vaccine. In addition to work on a prototype vaccine, ID Biomedical is under contract to provide the infrastructure and capacity to produce sufficient vaccine for all Canadians in the event of an influenza pandemic.
ID Biomedical will build a pilot production facility to produce sufficient vaccine for use in clinical trials. Production and clinical trials are scheduled to begin next fall.
Vaccines provide immunity by stimulating the body to produce antibodies to fight off a virus. Immunization has been used for many years in Canada and around the world to effectively prevent, control and eradicate serious illnesses such as polio and smallpox.
Scientists and governments continue to monitor the H5N1 animal influenza virus, which has affected many poultry populations and some humans in South East Asia and parts of Europe. Because of the widespread infection in birds, there is the possibility that this H5N1 avian influenza virus might change or mix with another strain, creating a new virus capable of infecting humans and causing a pandemic.
Pandemic vaccine production is a key component of Canada's approach to pandemic preparedness, which also includes antivirals, international collaboration and leadership, public education, and public health measures, including enhanced monitoring and alert systems.
In the event of a pandemic, the goal is to have vaccines provided to all Canadians. Until a pandemic strain emerges, however, antivirals will be an important part of our response to a pandemic. The Government of Canada contributed $24 million for the establishment of a National Antiviral Stockpile. Currently, federal, provincial and territorial governments have a stockpile of 35 million capsules of oseltamivir, with another five million on order.
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