COVID-19 vaccine development sees positive first steps in Saskatchewan

A COVID-19 vaccine created at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-Intervac has tested safe in two ferrets.

VIDO Intervac Director Dr. Volker Gerdts says they used the prototype vaccine on the ferrets twice and there were no issues. He says these are very positive results, with the next step being to actually infect the ferrets with the novel coronavirus in the first week of May. The animals will then be monitored to see if the vaccine works or not.

Dr. Gerdts explains a prototype vaccine is being manufactured that will be safety tested in the Summer, without any complications VIDO-Intervac hopes to begin human testing in the fall.

VIDO-Intervac has also been able to create an additional animal model in hamsters. Gerdts says vaccines can now be tested in hamsters to get an extra level of confidence for the potential vaccine and do extra work into alternate approaches like anti-virals, drugs and therapeutics to potentially help people now.

On Thursday the Federal government announced an investment of $650 million will be spent on vaccine development. 23 million of that is for VIDO-InterVac to accelerate development of a vaccine against COVID-19. Dr. Gerdts saying says this additional funding will go towards phase one and two of human testing, which enrolls many volunteers and can be expensive.

Gerdts also to recognized the provincial and federal government’s support, saying they are looking out for Canadians with these investments.


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