The Government of Saskatchewan is committing $15 million of new funding to further support important pandemic research by the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan.
“COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of Canada being a leader in research, development and production of new vaccines,” Premier Scott Moe said. “The place that should happen is right here in Saskatchewan, at VIDO-InterVac in Saskatoon.
“VIDO has made world-first breakthroughs and achieved significant momentum in vaccine and disease research, most recently with COVID-19 vaccine development, and this new facility will strengthen their position as Canada’s Centre for Pandemic Research.”
“This support from the Government of Saskatchewan is critical in strengthening VIDO’s position as a national centre focused on pandemic research and preparedness,” VIDO director Dr. Volker Gerdts said. “The investment will help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to protect Canadians from future emerging infectious diseases.”
The $15 million provincial funding commitment is contingent on the Government of Canada committing and flowing funds to the project, which has already received committed funding committed by the City of Saskatoon and significant contributions from several private donors. Premier Moe has formally written to the federal government to support VIDO-InterVac’s request for $45 million in federal government support and ongoing operating funding for this project.
The provincial commitment will support VIDO’s Centre for Pandemic Research, which will include an upgrade to Level 4 containment facilities. Containment Level 4 laboratories provide the capability to work safely with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases. Currently the only level 4 facility in Canada is the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
VIDO was originally designed and built to accommodate the possible future enhancement to Level 4 containment capability. This includes 2,000 square feet of existing lab space that can be readily upgraded to meet Level 4 containment requirements.
The centre will also provide critical animal housing for multiple species and significantly reduce the time required to advance vaccine development to human clinical trials. In addition, this Centre for Pandemic Research gives VIDO the capacity to develop the workforce and train the talent needed for a resilient vaccine and therapeutic ecosystem in Canada.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Government of Saskatchewan has provided VIDO-InterVac with additional funding of $4.2 million to support the development of a COVID-19 vaccine and construct a new small-scale manufacturing facility to be completed later this year. This funding is in addition to annual operations funding of $3.8 million in 2019-20 and $4.1 million in 2020-21.