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Made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine's final-stage results promising, says expert

Last Updated May 13, 2021 at 8:15 am MDT

Illustration of vaccine against coronavirus COVID-19. Photo by Robin Utrecht/ABACAPRESS.COM

Quebec-based Medicago began phase three of clinical testing for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in March

Medicago's vaccine uses plant-based technology, unlike any other vaccine currently approved for use here

Expert says plant-based vaccine easily recognized by immune system but is non-infectious

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There are currently 14 COVID-19 vaccines under review by Health Canada, with some of them being created in this country.

One expert says Medicago’s shot is showing very promising results in its late-stage trials.

The Quebec-based company began phase three of human testing in March, with a goal of sharing results later this year.


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Dr. Omar Khan, a professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto, says this vaccine uses plant-based technology, unlike any other vaccine currently approved for use in Canada.

“The reason of that is it is a virus-like particle … a VLP — it looks like the virus and it’s just the outside parts of it. It’s a very interesting, almost hollow version of the virus and it has none of the other parts of it, so it’s just a shell,” he explained. “It’s none of the pathogen parts. There’s no genetic information in there at all. Some proteins in there that are assembled together that resemble what an actual virus is.”

Khan tells NEWS 1130 the late-stage trials have been going very well, adding he’s looking forward to seeing the overall results.

He also says the plant-base technology, which he explains is easily recognized by the immune system but is completely non-infectious, are easier to make around the world.

“Other places that may not be able to make mRNA vaccines, if they can make a very effective VLP vaccine instead, because they already have that infrastructure, that’s great because then it gives people more supply and it can really help us stem the growing global infection numbers,” he said.

If approved, Medicago expects to be able to produce up to 80 million doses of its vaccine every year. That number goes up to a billion doses, once its large-scale factory is completed in 2023.

Medicago’s vaccine candidate is made in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Health Canada received the first portion of Medicago’s vaccine submission for review in April.