Trudeau announces $1.1B for COVID-19 research, vaccine work

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The federal government will spend $1.1-billion to help develop and manufacture a vaccine against COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

The money will also go toward country-wide testing to determine how widely the virus has spread through Canada.

Trudeau said the plan has three pillars: research on vaccines and other treatments; supports for clinical trials; and expanding national testing and modelling.

He added the federal government is investing close to $115 million for research for vaccines being developed at hospitals and universities.

“This is on top of funding we’ve already provided to support vaccine development in Canada.”

For the second pillar, Trudeau said the government is investing more than $662 million for clinical trials, led by Canada.

“A vaccine is the long-term solution to this virus,” he added.

“These drugs will take months to develop, test, fabricate, and roll out.”

Until something is ready, the priority remains to control the spread of COVID-19, Trudeau said.

PM @JustinTrudeau announcing 1.1 billion for virus research
1/add’l 115 mill vaccine/trtmt research
2/testing 662 mil for clinical trials
3/350 mil to expand testing/modelling & task force looking at serology, immunity – expect to test 2 mil ppl#bcpoli #covid19 @NEWS1130

— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) April 23, 2020

For the third pillar, Canada will spend $350 million to expand national testing and modelling of the virus, including the creation of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

The task force will be led by, among other health professionals, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

“We are bringing together top health experts and scientists from leading institutions from across the country,” Trudeau said. “Canada’s best and brightest will be working on serology testing, blood testing, to track and understand immunity to COVID-19.”

He added they will look at key questions, such as how many people, beyond those already tested, have had COVID-19, whether a person is immune afterwards and how long that lasts.

Over two years, Trudeau said at least a million Canadians will be tested as part of the study, from which the findings will help will the rollout of a potential vaccine and which health measures are most effective.

“The better we understand this virus, its spread and its impact on different people, the better we can fight it, and eventually defeat it,” he added. “Testing is key.”

Canada is currently up to 20,000 tests a day, almost double the amount of a month ago, Trudeau said.

“But testing must increase even further before we can reopen and restart our normal activities as a country.”

As for care homes, Trudeau said the country is letting down seniors and must do better.

The military has been requested to help at care homes in Ontario and Quebec, which Trudeau said the federal government supports.

But that is not a long-term solution, he added.

“In Canada, we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors.”

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