COVID-19: Medicago's Quebec vaccine approved by Health Canada
Medicago's plant-based vaccine candidate raised a lot of expectations and interest, particularly among people not vaccinated.
The two-dose vaccine from the Quebec company Medicago has been approved by Health Canada for people aged 18 to 64. The biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Quebec, made the announcement in a press release on Thursday.
For Medicago President and CEO, Takashi Nagao, the approval of this vaccine is an important step for Canada in the fight against the pandemic. “We are also grateful for the support of the Government of Canada in the development of this new vaccine, and we are manufacturing doses to begin fulfilling its order,” he added.
The Government of Canada has a contract with Medicago to provide the COVID-19 vaccine, Medicago says in its statement.
Called “Covifenz”, this vaccine is produced in partnership with the pharmaceutical company GSK. The third phase of clinical trials was completed at the end of 2021.
A Quebec plant-based vaccine< /h3>
In addition to being the first COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Canadian company to be licensed, Covifenz is the first to use plant-based production technology.
The vaccine sparked the interest of many to its “natural” design and its Quebec origin. Indeed, many Quebecers wanted to be able to take advantage of the plant vaccine (viral-like particles of plant origin), instead of the products already approved by Health Canada such as Moderna, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
This is particularly the case of actor Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge who revealed in a video published on social networks that he prefers to wait for the approval of the Medicago vaccine before being inoculated.
Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, believes that the approval of the Mediga vaccine is an important milestone for Canada’s biotechnology sector and for local innovation. He noted that one of his government’s top priorities has been to reverse the 40-year decline facing the biomanufacturing sector in Canada.
Effective against variants
< p>In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to be 71% effective against symptomatic infection and 100% effective against severe forms of COVID-19, Health Canada said in a statement released Thursday morning.
Moreover, these tests took place while many variants were in circulation, it is specified. “Therefore, the resulting data suggests that the vaccine would be effective against different variants, including the Delta variant. Clinical trials with Covifenz have shown efficacy against Delta and Gamma variants, and data also suggests efficacy against Alpha, Lambda and Mu variants. Although further confirmatory data is required, preliminary and exploratory data show that Covifenz produces neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant.”
After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence provided, the Department has determined that the vaccine meets its stringent requirements for safety, efficacy and quality and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the possible risks.
Use of the vaccine is allowed in adults under the age of 64 since the clinical trials conducted included few participants over the age of 65. “A large proportion of the elderly were already vaccinated. Medicago is working to collect data from older subjects to support licensing in this age group,” says Health Canada.
Medicago’s Covifenz vaccine should be administered on a two-day doses of 3.75 micrograms per dose, with an interval of 21 days between the first and second dose.