Canadian company reports 'promising' test results for COVID-19 vaccine

Nov 10 2020, 2:38 pm

Medicago, a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Quebec City, has received “promising” test results for its plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine.

The company says interim results of a Phase 1 clinical trial have found that 100% of subjects developed a promising antibody response after two doses of its potential vaccine.

In a press release, Medicago says the side effects were “generally mild to moderate and short in duration,” while containing “no serious adverse events.”

The Phase 1 clinical trial was a randomized, partially blinded study of 180 healthy subjects, both male and female aged 18 to 55.

Dr. Bruce D. Clark, President and CEO of Medicago says the company is able to supply 76 million doses to the Government of Canada, and Clark says the company is “ready to participate globally in the fight against COVID-19.”

Medicago says it plans to proceed with a Phase 2 and 3 clinical trial for its vaccine, should it meet Canadian health and safety standards.

“These are very promising results. After two doses, the adjuvanted vaccine candidate induced robust neutralizing antibody and cellular immune responses which is encouraging and support further clinical evaluation,” said Nathalie Landry, Executive Vice President, Scientific and Medical Affairs at Medicago.

“We also observed that the antibody levels were higher after vaccination than those observed in convalescent sera from people who recovered from the disease.”

Last month, Medicago received $173m in funding support from the Government of Canada for its vaccine research and development.

On Monday, American pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer said positive preliminary data of its vaccine suggests shots could be 90% effective at preventing the virus. Pfizer said they estimate the ability to produce 1.3 billion doses — enough to vaccinate 650 million people — by the end of 2021.

Last week, Canada’s chief public health officer said that when a coronavirus vaccine is approved, there will be a limited supply at first.

Dr. Theresa Tam said that she is “cautiously optimistic” that a safe and effective vaccine for the coronavirus will be available in the first quarter of 2021 and said initial supplies of the vaccine will be in short order.

Tam stressed that clinical trials still need to continue and that Health Canada needs to approve any vaccines that are deemed safe and effective. Once vaccines are approved, the government will receive additional advice on prioritization from the NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) based on the characteristics of each vaccine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said obtaining vaccines for Canadians is a top priority for his government.

Decisions on which vaccines to pursue, which populations get first access, and how they are distributed across the country will be based on the recommendations of experts, Trudeau said, adding that the provinces will also be part of the conversation.

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