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 The results have not yet been peer-reviewed.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

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

(Black Press File Photo)
Sylvan Lake RCMP charge youth with weapons offences

The public helped to identify the individual involved in an incident at the pier earlier this month

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

Most Read