French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and Britain's GSK have promised up to 72 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate to the Canadian government, which has already signed similar agreements with several American companies.
The two groups, which plan to seek regulatory approval for the vaccine in the first half of 2021, launched human clinical trials in early September, for which 440 participants are being recruited.
"To address a global health crisis of this magnitude, it takes partnerships and we are grateful to Canada for their collaboration, and to GSK for partnering with us to develop a safe and effective vaccine," Sanofi Pasteur vice president Thomas Triomphe said in a joint statement.
The vaccine candidate, developed by Sanofi in partnership with GSK, is based on technology that Sanofi has used to produce seasonal influenza vaccines and on immunological agents developed by GSK.
Canada already signed in August agreements in principle for candidate vaccines with American firms Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna
Ottawa has requested from Moderna an additional 14 million additional doses, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Monday.
In total, "Canada has now ensured guaranteed access to a minimum of 154 million doses and up to a maximum of 262 million potential vaccines to protect Canadians and save lives," she told a news conference.
Ottawa also announced an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada for up to 150,000 vials of remdesivir, an antiviral used in the treatment of seriously ill Covid-19 patients. Canada approved its use at the end of July.
As of Monday, Canada, which has a population of nearly 38 million, had recorded more than 146,000 cases of the new coronavirus and 9,269 deaths.
Several countries have already reserved doses of the vaccine candidate from Sanofi and GSK — 60 million doses have been promised to the British government, the European Commission has reserved 300 million, and the United States 100 million with an option for up to 500 million additional doses over the longer term.