The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has teamed up with Chinese biotech company CanSino Biologics to manufacture a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. The vaccine, Ad5-nCoV, is one of the first to get approval for human trials and the first vaccine in the world to begin phase II human clinical trials.
NRC and CanSino Biologics entered into a collaboration in 2013, when NRC's HEK293 cell line was licensed by CanSino to develop a vaccine for Ebola. Covid-19 vaccine Ad5-nCoV uses the same cell line.
What is known about Ad5-nCoV
The vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics in collaboration with the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology is a genetically modified adenovirus, i.e. those viruses that infect the lining of eyes, airways, lungs, intestines, urinary tract, nervous system and cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, as well as pneumonia and conjunctivitis.
Ad5-nCoV carries a spike protein specific to Covid-19 that will help the human body prepare to identify and destroy SARS-CoV-2.
Collaboration between NRC and CanSino Biologics
The vaccine has been developed by CanSino using cell culture developed by NRC, according to a statement released by NRC on Tuesday. NRC will manufacture doses and use them for human trials in Canada, in collaboration with the Canadian Immunization Research Network at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology.
In March, Ottawa allocated $44 million for upgrading NRC's facility in Montreal to ensure the site is ready for "bioprocessing of potential vaccine candidates as they become available", the statement read. Although property rights of the vaccine will remain with the Chinese company, NRC's involvement will ensure that Canada will get its guaranteed domestic supply, RT reported.
The vaccine received China's regulatory approval earlier this year to start human trials. "It is one of only a handful of vaccine candidates in the world against COVID-19 so far approved for initial safety testing in humans, and was the first candidate vaccine to begin conducting Phase II human clinical trials," the NRC statement read.
When will Ad5-nCoV enter human trial in Canada?
The exact timeline hasn't been announced, but it'll first have to seek approval of the federal institution Health Canada. It'll reportedly enter trial in Canada as early as September.
The vaccine which got Beijing's approval earlier this year, entered its second trial phase in China in late April. "The proposed development timeline for Ad5-nCoV is unprecedented. Generally, vaccines take anywhere from 5 to 15 years to develop," the NRC statement read.
As on Wednesday, Canada has reported 71,157 Covid-19 cases and 5,169 fatalities.