A New Vaccine Against COVID-19 from Quebec City

Jaider Cabarcas

A company from Quebec is developing its own vaccine against coronavirus made of plants.


This week, Medicago, a biopharmatiotic company located in Quebec City,  received the approval of Health Canada for the first step of the exam request for their vaccine against Covid 19. This vaccine would be the first Canadian’s vaccine against Covid and the first made of plants. The process of exam enabled by Health Canada allows Medicago to submit to them information about the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine as it becomes available. This is one more step towards the legalization of this Canadian vaccine. However, Health Canada will not decide to authorize a vaccine until it has received this data as well as a report with the risks and benefits of the vaccine.


“Health Canada’s decision to accept Medicago’s request for continuous review of the vaccine, a first for a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured in Canada, represents an important first milestone for us … We are very grateful and also looking  forward to continue our collaboration with Health Canada” said Carolyn Finkle, Chief Operating Officer for Medicago.


During the last months, Medicago were working on the development of their vaccine. After obtaining the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the one that causes COVID-19 disease, the company had succeeded in producing Covid 19’s virus-like particles (VLPs). This is notably thanks to their exclusive technology of production on plants. Let’s not forget that they did this feat in just 20 days.


Besides, the biopharmatiotic company begins phase 3 of its clinical trial which is based on the efficacy and the safety of the vaccine against the coronavirus. For this final step, the company will have to recruit 30,000 volunteers, which will not be easy. They have to search people with good health in 10 different countries including Canada, the United States, Brazil and the United Kingdom. 


The first tests will be on adults beetwen 18 and 65 years old. Then, they will try with elderly people (65 years old and more) and they will finish testing their vaccine on adults with co-morbid factors. If everything goes the right way, the first volunteers will receive their doses within two weeks. “In some countries it will be difficult to recruit older people or people at risk. This is the reason why we are doing a global study that also goes to countries where access to vaccines is more difficult in the next six months” declared Dr. Brian J. Ward, a doctor for Medicago. 


Medicago hopes to be able to submit the final file to the authorities in June. If they succeed, they will be able to start the distribution  of their vaccine in August. They want to produce 80 millions of doses each year starting with 2021.


The vaccine made by Medicago, made of coronavirus’ virus-like particules (VLPCo), is made with the protein S recombinant expressed as VLPs. He is also combined with the adjuvant for pandemic use of GSK. Like some of the vaccines already in operation, this one will need two doses. The doses will be administered with 21 days between each one and they will be of 3,75 micrograms of VLPCo.