With federal funding boost, Saskatoon lab positioned to become 'Canada’s centre for pandemic preparedness'
SASKATOON -- In the newly-tabled federal budget, $59.2 million is earmarked for Saskatoon's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO).
The University of Saskatchewan-based lab has been an important player domestically during the pandemic, with its own COVID-19 vaccine in human trials.
In its quest to develop a Canadian coronavirus-stopping jab, the lab has received a few injections of its own, previously tens of millions from the federal government as well as a dose of provincial funding.
But Monday's announcement is aimed towards the future, potentially shoring up the country's capability to identify and face down emerging pandemics.
"It signals Canada’s recognition of VIDO’s global prominence in vaccine research and development that will protect the health and safety of all Canadians," university President Peter Stoicheff said.
"VIDO can now begin its important work as Canada’s centre for pandemic preparedness," Stoicheff said.
The lab's CEO, Volker Gerdts, has been lobbying the federal and provincial governments for funding to expand the facility, also making a pitch to the City of Saskatoon.
The Saskatchewan government previously committed $15 million towards the creation of the nationally focused pandemic research centre, contingent on the lab receiving its requested federal funding
The City of Saskatoon has also pledged to kick in $250,000 if both upper levels of government funded the project.
“We are excited about this announcement as it allows VIDO to expand our capacity to rapidly respond to emerging human and animal infectious diseases and supports vaccine development including COVID-19," Gerdts said.
In addition to working on its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, work has been underway on a vaccine manufacturing facility at the lab which that could produce millions of vaccine doses annually.
A portion of the new funding will go towards animal housing and upgrading areas of the lab's containment facility to allow researchers to safely study the world's most dangerous pathogens.