The Director and CEO of VIDO-InterVac says the COVID-19 vaccine it’s preparing to test in humans was developed using a technology that is proved to be safe, reliable and cost effective.
Just before Christmas VIDO-InterVac, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan, received approval from Health Canada to begin a combined phase-1, phase-2 human clinical trial of its vaccine to protect against COVID-19.
Dr. Volker Gerdts, the Director and CEO of VIDO-InterVac, says the trials will begin with phase-1 in Halifax before moving to multiple sites across Canada for phase-2.
This is what we call a protein subunit vaccine. In contrast to, for example, the RNA vaccines that Moderna or Pfizer are providing at the moment, we are also focussing on a subunit or a part of the virus, the spike protein that the virus uses to attach to the cell in your respiratory tract. Instead of providing the genetic information for it which is the RNA vaccine, we are using the protein itself. So, this is a protein subunit vaccine that is formulated with an adjuvant, a molecule that stimulates the immune system to get a better immune response.
That is a technology that has a number of advantages. It doesn’t require this ultralow freezer storage for example, it’s relatively easy to produce, it’s cost effective and most importantly it has an excellent safety track record. It’s a technology that is being used currently in a number of vaccines that humans are getting every year, including for example the Hepatitis B vaccine or Dysteria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, those childhood vaccines that every kid in Canada is getting.
Those are all protein subunit vaccines and we know they have a very good track record.
~ Dr. Volker Gerdts, VIDO-InterVac
Dr. Gerdts notes animal studies required to demonstrate the safety of the vaccine, prior to human trials, have raised no concerns regarding safety.