People are vaccinated at the Palais de Congress COVID-19 vaccination clinic, Thursday, May 13, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

People are vaccinated at the Palais de Congress COVID-19 vaccination clinic, Thursday, May 13, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Canadian maker of promising mRNA vaccine looks to test it against Pfizer in new trial

Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics says its vaccine produced no serious adverse events and developed good antibodies against COVID-19

A homegrown mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 shows promising results in its first small trial and its maker is hoping to test it directly against the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.

Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics says its vaccine produced no serious adverse events and developed good antibodies against COVID-19 that “compare favourably” with the two mRNA vaccines already on the market from Pfizer and Moderna.

“We’re extremely pleased,” said Providence CEO Brad Sorenson.

The Phase 1 trial included 60 healthy adults between 18 and 64, with more than half of them receiving two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart. The results have not yet been peer-reviewed.

Sorenson said the next step is supposed to be a Phase 2 head-to-head trial that would test the effectiveness of Providence against Pfizer. Most vaccines in Phase 2 have been tested only against a placebo, but Sorenson said in a pandemic he feels it is unethical to give someone a placebo when they could otherwise be vaccinated.

But to do the trial, Providence needs 500 doses of Pfizer, which he said neither the company nor the National Research Council has been willing to provide.

A spokeswoman for Pfizer said Thursday the company’s focus is only on getting the vaccine to meet an “urgent public health need” and will only sell its vaccine to the federal government.

“As such, we are not providing supply of our vaccine to third-parties to study the vaccine in comparative trials,” said Christina Antoniou.

Pfizer is the main component of Canada’s vaccination campaign to date, accounting for two-thirds of the deliveries as of this week.

A spokesman for Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government has informed Providence Ottawa is willing to help fund its Phase 2 trial, and continue to work with the company.

“Minister Champagne has spoken directly with Providence Therapeutics’ CEO and the chair of their board of directors to discuss our continued support for their work as they bring their vaccine candidate through the early stages of development,” said John Power.

A spokesman for the National Research Council said it doesn’t have access to doses of Pfizer or Moderna to help Providence, but is discussing the request with other departments that might be able to help, including Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Sorenson said Providence is also discussing with the World Health Organization the possibility of doing a Phase 3 trial in a developing country.

Sorenson said if Health Canada supports both trials, they could be wrapped up by the end of the year. But Sorenson said he doesn’t feel supported by Ottawa and has threatened to take the business outside the country.

The company has production agreements in place that should be able to produce 200 million doses a year, he said.

Providence is one of six Canadian companies that received funding from the National Research Council for COVID-19 vaccines that were in early stages of development.

The company received $4.9 million last October to help fund its Phase 1 trial. It also received $5 million in January from the next-generation manufacturing supercluster to help scale up its manufacturing of mRNA.

Canada currently doesn’t make any of the vaccines it is using — Pfizer is being made in Europe and the United States, Canada’s doses of Moderna are all coming from Europe, and Oxford-AstraZeneca is coming from the United States, India and South Korea.

The only Canadian-made vaccine among the seven procured by Canada for COVID-19 to date is Medicago’s plant-based protein vaccine, which is now in a Phase 3 trial and could be ready for mass production before the end of the year.

Medicago received $173 million in October to push its vaccine forward as well as an undisclosed sum for a contract to provide Canada at least 20 million doses if it is approved. Some of it will be made in Canada, but production will also take place in the U.S.

A lack of domestic drug manufacturing hurt Canada’s vaccination program, particularly early on, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is intent on fixing that ahead of the next global health crisis.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Construction work continues on the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1 on Fitzwilliam Street. (News Bulletin file)
Next phase of borrowing approved as Nanaimo fire hall construction ongoing

City of Nanaimo CAO says construction on Fitzwilliam Street hall on schedule and budget

Nanaimo Fire Rescue firefighters at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Tenth Street near Southside Drive on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver OK after crashing vehicle off the side of Nanaimo’s Tenth Street

Crews say wet roads a factor a crash Sunday, June 13

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Nanaimo is the first city in Canada to subscribe to the Chonolog environment photo-monitoring system, which allow residents to contribute photos of habitat restoration projects that are converted to time lapse sequences showing environmental changes. (Chris Bush/ News Bulletin)
Nanaimo residents invited to be citizen scientists by sharing habitat restoration photos

Nanaimo first city in Canada to sign up for Chronolog environment photo monitoring service

Emergency crews on scene of a two-car crash at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday, June 13. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Crash blocks Cranberry intersection in Nanaimo, no one injured

Incident blocks both southbound lanes of Trans-Canada Highway

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps near Nanaimo

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

A section of proposed Harbourfront Walkway between White Eagle Terrace and Battersea Road. (City of Nanaimo image)
Nanaimo’s proposed walkway extension project estimated at $25-30 million

City asking for feedback on concepts to connect Departure Bay Beach and ferry terminal

City of Nanaimo council has approved amendments for an animal control bylaw requested by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The bylaw includes language related to quail. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Province asks for tweaks to Nanaimo’s animal responsibility bylaw

Ministry concerned bylaw wording could create municipal and provincial jurisdictional overlaps

Most Read