SASKATOON -- For more than 20 years, Saskatoon’s Jill Van Kessel has been studying viruses and helping to develop vaccines at VIDO-InterVac. As a Research Technician, she’s worked with viruses from all over the world and is now part of the team developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I wanted to do something progressive and something to help,” explained Van Kessel. “I’m not good just sitting at home. I get energy from people, so I am very grateful to be able to contribute to this project and make difference.”

Andrea Kroeker is another member of the VIDO-InterVac team working towards a vaccine. She moved to Saskatoon from Winnipeg this past April to join the team.

“It’s fun to be in the middle of everything,” she told YXE Underground host Eric Anderson. “We see so many different research projects from around the world here at VIDO and we get to be a part of that. It’s really interesting.”

VIDO-InterVac is part of a global effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The facility, located on the University of Saskatchewan campus, is one of a few locations in Canada that can safely work with the virus.

Handling COVID-19 every day might seem like a dangerous job, but for Kroeker, she feels at home in VIDO’s level three containment lab.

“I often tell my parents not to worry when I’m inside because I feel safest working in level three. I feel safer than being out in the community or grocery shopping, for sure.”

There’s pressure on the VIDO-InterVac team to develop a vaccine as quickly as possible, especially as numbers continue to rise across Canada. Van Kessel is acutely aware of this pressure, but it’s one that she embraces.


“Everybody wants to go back to normal, but that will not happen until we get a vaccine. So yes, we feel pressure, but it’s good pressure because we need it. It motivates you to work even harder.”