Canada’s first laboratory that can produce COVID-19 vaccines opened on Tuesday morning in Montreal.
With its inauguration underway, health officials say Canada won’t start producing its own coronavirus vaccines on-site until 2022, pending certification by Health Canada.
The Government of Canada says the new lab will help increase its domestic “capacity to produce critical vaccines and therapeutics.” According to a press release from the National Research Council Canada, the government will continue to partner with industry and academic partners to protect Canadians from COVID-19, and to “build our biomanufacturing capacity as part of our recovery plan.”
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Montreal’s new Biologics Manufacturing Centre will be able to produce cell-based biopharmaceuticals like vaccines and other biologics, including viral vector, protein subunit, virus-like particles, and other recombinant proteins.
Specifically, the site is found at the Royalmount site in Montreal. The construction phase of the project has been completed on budget and ahead of schedule, according to the press release.
The Biologics Manufacturing Centre will help ensure access to made-in-Canada vaccines in times of national and global emergencies! https://t.co/AGw66Eaeug #DiscoverTheNRC #NRCHealth pic.twitter.com/87k7TZePUw
— NRC Canada (@NRC_CNRC) June 22, 2021
Once fully licensed and operational, the Biologics Manufacturing Centre will have full end-to-end manufacturing capabilities.
The 58,000 sq ft lab will have a production capacity of approximately 24 million doses of vaccines per year, varying based on the specific vaccine requirements.
Installation of “critical equipment” continues at the Biologics Manufacturing Centre and a “number of further steps” are still required for Health Canada to license the facility, enabling the production of vaccines for human use.
“The health and safety of Canadians have always been our top priority. We are proud to deliver this project for Canadians, which will ensure Canada is equipped with the capacity to produce vaccines for whatever the future may hold,” says François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“Novavax choosing to produce their vaccine here in Montréal shows that, with the right investments, Canada can be a destination of choice for biomanufacturing. This project will also support the continued development and growth of Canada’s vibrant life sciences industry.”