Canada steps up support for vaccine development against pandemic threats

By: Results Canada Published: 26/04/2023

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, the world is already preparing to prevent and respond to future disease outbreaks. Results Canada congratulates Canada for joining this call by renewing its commitment to global health security. On Wednesday, Anita Vandenbeld, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, announced CA$100 million over five years to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a global partnership that aims to reduce the time taken to develop vaccines for disease threats to just 100 days.

“Our government remains committed to investing in vaccine research and health security preparedness here in Canada and around the world,” said Vandenbeld, who made the announcement alongside Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, at an event to announce the Leadership Award for Excellence in Vaccine Research for Infectious Diseases of Epidemic Potential, co-hosted by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and CEPI.

Canada’s role in pandemic prevention, preparedness & response

Results Canada and its volunteers across the country have been advocating for Canada to be a champion in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response since the outbreak of COVID-19. Our volunteers called on Canada to do its part to #EndCovidEverywhere by investing in the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), the global partnership that aimed to end the acute phase of the pandemic by equitably deploying tests, treatments, and vaccines. We can be proud that Canada was among the few countries that met or exceeded their “fair share” targets twice by committing a total of more than CAD$2 billion to the ACT-A, and its vaccine pillar COVAX, which was co-led by CEPI. At the 2022 G20 Leaders’ Summit, Canada also announced $50 million to the Pandemic Fund, a global partnership to address the significant financing gaps in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, particularly in low-and middle-income countries.

Canada has been a long-standing investor in CEPI since its inception in 2017. The latest contribution comes amid a shift in the narrative in the global health space, from the COVID-19 emergency to preparing for the next pandemic. According to studies, the chances of an outbreak similar to COVID-19 is between 47%-57% within the next 25 years, and whilst the likelihood of an infectious disease outbreak is becoming inevitable, its ability to cause millions of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic damage is not. Results Canada has joined advocates around the world in sounding the alarm for the need for better – and more equitable – pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. By funding CEPI, Canada has helped the world have a head start in beating future pandemic threats through research and development (R&D) that is designed to put equitable access at the heart of global pandemic responses, potentially saving millions of lives. 

This contribution from Canada will go into implementing CEPI’s 2022-2026 strategy and its headline goal to shorten the time it takes to develop vaccines for new diseases to 100 days, a third of the time it took to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The investment also supports a new partnership between CIHR and CEPI to provide grant funding to Canadian researchers to pursue projects that will help prepare for future pandemic threats and develop the ‘next generation’ of COVID-19 vaccines, designed to protect against newly emerging variants and for use in low-resource settings.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, and the world needs to invest in tools now to combat variants and to get ahead of the next deadly outbreak – through this pledge on World Immunization Week, Canada has sent this message across bold and clear.

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