Canada has announced $192 million to develop a COVID-19 vaccine — and Canadian scientists have stepped up to answer the call. There are almost 100 projects across the country in the works to identify, treat and ultimately find a vaccine for COVID-19.
Here are a few examples of what Canadian researchers are doing:
1. Canadian scientists are isolating and reproducing the virus
Two different sets of Canadian researchers — one in Toronto and one in Saskatchewan — have successfully isolated and reproduced the virus in their labs. This success means testing of screening methods and vaccines can now be done within the country.
2. Researchers in Toronto are developing testing technology
Technology being developed in Toronto by pharmacy and engineering researchers aims to create a lab-in-a-box which would allow for a portable COVID-19 testing method. Doing so would make tests cheaper and faster, especially in remote areas like Canada’s North.
3. University of Toronto students are monitoring COVID-19’s trajectory
PhD students at the U of T School of Public Health have developed a dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases across Canada. The heat map is proving to be very useful to researchers and reporters alike. A team from the University of Guelph is also providing data entry support.
4. A Vancouver biotech company is developing antibody-based drugs
AbCellera’s technology is searching blood samples from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to find antibodies that could be used for both treatment and prevention of the disease. In partnership with pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, they plan to manufacture and distribute a treatment, aiming for clinical trials by July 2020.
5. A Quebec company is developing a plant-based vaccine
Medicago, a 20-year-old company with a history of creating plant-based vaccines, has identified what they say is a viable plant-based vaccine candidate. It’s currently at the pre-clinical testing phase.
6. A Montreal company is beginning clinical trials for treatment drug
The Montreal Heart Institute is enlisting 6,000 participants for a clinical study to test the effectiveness of an already-existing drug on the severe lung complications found in COVID-19 patients.
7. A Kitchener-based tech company has the okay from Health Canada to 3D print PPE
InkSmith designed, prototyped and received Health Canada approval for laser cut and 3D printed personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect frontline healthcare workers. Even the 3D-printer community has stepped up, printing pieces for the approved face shields on at-home or smaller-scale devices and dropping them off to InkSmith to be sanitized, assembled and delivered.