MONTREAL -- A COVID-19 vaccine candidate being developed by a Quebec company is showing positive early results in animal trials, the company said.

In a statement, Quebec City-based Medicago said its vaccine candidate "induced a positive antibody response only 10 days after a single dose in mice."

Those results bode well for taking the proposed vaccine to the next crucial phase of testing, the company said.

"These positive results are pivotal to initiate a clinical study in healthy volunteers," said Nathalie Landry, Medicago's executive vice-president of scientific and medical affairs. "Once results from a second 'boost' dose are available, Medicago will submit a clinical trial application to Health Canada and an investigational new drug submission with the FDA in the United States to allow for the initiation of human clinical trials this summer."

"We are very encouraged about these promising early results," Landry added.

Landry said that while the dosage of the possible vaccine is not yet determined, she estimated that Medicago - which in addition to Quebec City has production facilities in the state of North Carolina - could produce as many as 120 million doses of the drug every year and that millions of doses could be available by the end of 2020 if approved.

Medicago, which specializes in using plant-based technology to create pharmaceutical drugs, says it has quickly and successfully produced vaccines in the past, including one for H1N1 in just 19 days back in 2009.

Medicago, which has about 450 employees in North America, was one of two Canadian companies to have received $192 million funding from the Canadian government back in March to work on a COVID-19 vaccine.