Canada's 1st COVID-19 vaccine lab opens in Montreal
MONTREAL -- The first laboratory in Canada that will produce COVID-19 vaccines is opening on Tuesday in Montreal, CTV News confirmed.
However, officials state the facility won't be up and running for "a few months" as it still has to undergo a certification process by Health Canada.
It is expected to start producing vaccines in 2022, according to federal Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne's office.
Until now, Canada has relied heavily on the private sector to fight COVID-19, with all of its vaccine deliveries coming in from other countries.
Since the beginning of Canada's vaccination campaign, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have being brought in from a plant in Belgium.
As a result, the country has found itself at the mercy of foreign politics and shipment delays.
"We never want to be caught short again," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
The federal government announced last summer it was allocating $126 million to build a Canadian facility at the National Research Council's Royalmount facility in Montreal.
The hope is that the lab will be useful to thwart off future variants of the coronavirus, produce potential booster shots and be an active contributor to combat future health emergencies or pandemics.
“As we see new variants rising, as we see a virus that will continue to be present in many places around the world, we don't know what the future looks like for a year from now, two years from now, three years from now," Trudeau said. "Regardless of what could happen in the future, we will have domestic production on top of all our partnerships and contracts signed with companies around the world.”
Experts say the Montreal laboratory will not have the ability to produce mRNA vaccines, like Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be able to produce other types of vaccines -- up to two million doses a month.
Trudeau stated in February that his government has already struck a deal with Novavax to produce "tens of millions" of its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada, if approved.
The Royalmount plant was completed one month ahead of schedule.