Canada’s recent agreements with Sanofi, Novavax and Johnson & Johnson to procure millions of doses of prospective COVID-19 vaccines have been met with optimism and anticipation. The move joins a growing list of Canada’s vaccine procurement deals with pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer.
Dr. Joanne Langley, co-lead of Canada’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, recently told CBC Radio’s The House that “The vaccine task force strategy is to develop – and we have developed – a portfolio of vaccines … If one or two of them fails, we hope to have a number in our back pocket that we can use.”
The wisdom of this strategy has become apparent in recent months as a deal to test China’s COVID-19 vaccine in a Canadian Phase I/II trial unraveled at the seams. The breakdown culminated in an announcement by Canada’s National Research Council (NRC) of the dissolution of the partnership. Canadians have been left wondering what exactly motivated Canada to enter into such an unstable partnership in the first place given the dire state of Canada-China relations and the scandalous history of China’s vaccine industry.
The now defunct partnership between the Canadian government, CanSino Biologics and China’s military was terminated due to China’s apparent decision to block customs clearance of its vaccine to Canada. Whether an act of political retaliation, a logistical decision based on the decrease in Canada’s COVID-19 cases, or a combination of both, China has come under scrutiny for engaging in “vaccine nationalism.”
Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, formerly assistant deputy minister overseeing Canada’s vaccine collaborations with China, recently told Global News that China has a history of creating customs obstacles as leverage in trade disagreements. McCuaig-Johnston further said that “China’s success in vaccines is standing on the back of Canadian researchers and scientists. Over the years we helped China develop its capacity. But China is no longer a reliable partner.”
Meanwhile, CanSino has completed the second phase of its clinical trials in China, has been granted a patent and has already shipped its candidate vaccine to other partner countries for Phase III testing, including Saudi Arabia, Russia, Argentina, Chile and Pakistan where the COVID-19 burden remains high. Dr. Xuefeng Yu, Chairman of CanSino, recently told the Globe and Mail that Canada is “not an ideal place to run Phase III (trials),” given that such late-stage testing necessitates tens of thousands of participants.
Yet, despite millions invested by the Canadian government, months of research setbacks and eventual termination of the Canada-China Phase I/II trial, Canada maintains a collaboration with CanSino and China’s military on the vaccine’s development. Surprisingly, Drs. Scott Halperin and Joanne Langley of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax and Principal Investigators on the now terminated Phase I/II Canada-China trial, are registered as Principal Investigators on the Phase III China-Pakistan trial. Langley is also the recently appointed co-chair of the Canadian COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force quoted above.
Aside from the conflict of interest, the lack of transparency is troubling given the ongoing opaqueness surrounding the Canada-China Phase I/II partnership – specifically, the Canadian government’s failure to disclose that the collaboration included China’s military. Moreover, Canada’s government has been criticized for a lack of transparency surrounding its Vaccine Task Force that operated for months unbeknownst to Canadian citizens and is steeped in conflicts of interest that are hidden from public view.
While China continues to benefit from Canadian technology and scientific expertise, it is highly unlikely that Canadians will reap any benefits. If anything, the ongoing lack of transparency will further undermine public trust in the government’s oversight of emerging vaccines and exacerbate citizens’ vaccine hesitancy. If Canada intends to eventually add CanSino’s vaccine to its portfolio of candidates, it is unlikely that the vaccine would be well received by Canadians given that public trust in China’s vaccine products is already low and that none of the countries currently slated for CanSino’s Phase III trials have a regulatory system as robust or stringent as Canada’s.
The original decision to collaborate with China lacked sound judgement despite overwhelming evidence that it was ill-advised. This latest decision to continue providing China with Canadian intellectual know-how and guidance is entirely preposterous and begs the question: Why is the co-chair of Canada’s Vaccine Task Force quietly collaborating as co-lead on CanSino’s joint vaccine trial with China’s military after the NRC terminated an existing partnership on the same vaccine’s development? Moreover, is Canada’s government supporting this? If so, for what purpose?
If the Canadian government’s goal is to establish an adequate supply of safe and effective vaccines while maintaining its citizens’ trust, transparency must be a priority. Canada has made significant progress in focusing its efforts on domestic vaccine development and procuring a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates from international allies. It would be a shame if vaccine adoption was undermined by bureaucratic secrecy and political intrigue, rather than upheld by reliable partnerships that support robust vaccine uptake.
The comments section is closed.
Why CanSino vacciné not accepted in Canada?
Support Canadian sovereignty, defund the U.N.
The Chinese stole the information they needed simple as that. When is China going to start paying $$$$$$$$$ Trillions to every country for the Genocide they unleashed? When is Canada going to learn NEVER trust China.
Embarrassing to be Canadian
This CanSino agreement is over and we should hold the decision makers to account for the failure.
Another front is the memorandum of agreement by the Canadian federal government with Novavax to produce a still unapproved vaccine in the Montreal facility that was slated for the CanSino vaccine. Why not enter into an agreement with approved vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson? This could be another blunder in the making.
So Canada sells world class vaccine producer Connaught Pharmaceuticals in the 1980’s, then collaborates with Chinese military to produce COVID-19 vaccines via CanSino, spending millions of dollars on developing a vaccine which China blocks this country from receiving when it needs it most. Who made theses decisions and why aren’t they called to task?
Unbelievable from start to finish. I’m glad that there are still eyes on these situations. Now that the Cansino vaccine has successfully completed phase 3 trials, what can Canadians expect for their investiment?
Shame on both Canada and China for hiding their secret deals from their public.
I am always amazed by such ignorance. Do you have an iPhone – you do know they are made in China, but we all know they are inferior products? If you go to a manufacturer anywhere in the world and say, can you make me a BLANK for under $5.00. The answer is yes, but it won’t last long as I also have to make a profit. You cannot blame the Chinese for making poor quality products as they also must make a profit. The average iPhone cost USD $278/phone and Apple sells them for $1200 USD. I do not hear people talking about the inferior iPhone China made product, so you? Before cheap fossil fuels became available, even Made In America products were inferior, but we don’t hear much about that do we, as the Wal-Mart is China’s largest purchaser. And yes, we don’t hear from Americans of the cheaply made products that Wal-Mart is profiting from selling to them. Please don’t lay a narrow viewpoint of how capitalism works as a Trump supporter may be reading this post!
I am a 6-8th+ generation Canadian, I think from Scottish immigrants, but none the less I am a 63-year old Canadian. That stated I was married in P.R. China to a doctor who immigrated to Canada in 2000. Today we were discussing how China has very few cases of COVID-19, and she said that is because most of them have been vaccinated, plus they have very strict protocols if an outbreak occurs anywhere in the country. If you travel to China outsider or citizen you have to be tested before you leave for China and have a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours before flight time. When you arrive in China, at your expense you are set to a hotel for 14 days quarantine, locked in a room, with a military presence ensuring you don’t leave.
Your article finally breaks the ice on why China is not shipping their proven vaccine to Canada. Based on their capabilities, they would be able to ship all the doses we need within seven days. Remember, these are the people who went from dirt to a complete working hospital, fully equipped in seven days for 1,000 COVID-19 patients! Yes, I know that they removed all the environmental roadblocks and saved people, not trees first! It is very interesting in your article that even though there is no hope that China will ever ship vaccines to Canada that Canadians are still helping the Chinese develop better medical treatment in the background.
I am a T2D (type 2 diabetic), and I would gladly roll up my sleeve to get the Chinese vaccine then wait for the Americans or Europeans to give me their versions in nine months. In nine months, there are many opportunities to die as a result of not being inoculated against the virus. If this is all about the G5 beef with China and the USA that has now been affecting our relationship with China for two years, tell the Americans to take the Executive by the end of February or send her home. Then maybe China will release the two Michales and enough vaccine for all Canadain who what to work towards herd immunity.
We have traded spies that have done more damage to our national security than the CFO awaiting extradition to the USA. Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder still remains in Canada, and Canadian cellular companies are still purchasing Huawei Technologies cellular products. So what’s the point of house arrest in Canada. Please send her to the USA or back to China, if from Canada time served!
Trump has left the throne, so the PM no longer has to appease his trade war with China at the cost of Canadian lives. I am missing something? Please don’t throw out the red-herring of violations of international law.
It wouldn’t hurt to mention Dr. Norman Bethune a Canadian who selfishly gave his life to save Chinese citizens and maybe it is time to return the favour. Unlike Canadians, all 1.3 billion Chinese citizens know this Canadian and the PM should work this into a speech.
Just watch how fast Canada would receive its vaccines by merely floating the idea that they intend to bring them in from China in the next few weeks.
Iris, One item that is not clear, has Canadian knowhow or technology been used to help develop the CanSino vaccine ?
Yes – In 2014, Canada’s NRC sold non-exclusive license rights to CanSino for the cell line technology that was used to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. CanSino previously used this technology to develop an Ebola vaccine in collaboration with China’s AMMS and Canada’s NML
To deal with China you need to have the an attitude like Donal Trump’s. Other than that don’t deal with China at all.
Canadians , have no confidence in china vaccine, inferior product. Frankly I for one do not trust the Chinese government to supply exactly what was ordered or the quality of the vaccine.
They proven themselves as unreliable and not truthful.
What better way to test their experimental product on a unsuspecting country.
No credibility, what so ever.
Exactly how is Canada going to test the product, seems unlikely.
Mr.Trudeau , is some what of a questionable individual in the first place. He’s proven to be less mature, and a lot gullible to manipulation than the average person, lacking in international interpersonal behaviours.
Sadly, he’s just smart enough to be extremely dangerous to is country men.
This is not about this political leader it’s more about , the trust of the actual product of vaccine.
In times of desperation, it’s is easy to be mislead and swindled, which China is noteworthy of being in the past.
You can only predict the future , by knowing its history’s.
China has a history of deception.
Therefore, the likely hood of deceptive action.
absolutely correct on every issue.
canadians must with old tax mney AFTER getting rid of r Crime Minister
First of all, why are we giving money to China for vaccine research and development when we have so many research facilities in Canada. We should be supporting our own country and spending our dollars here. Justin Trudeau should be ashamed of himself being in bed the the Chinese communist country. China wants to bring the world to its knees so they can be the one world order. This is a disgrace and has to be stopped. All nations should be suing China in a Class Action Suite including Canada . And pertaining to the Great Reset that Justin Trudeau thinks Covid-19 is a good excuse to proceed with, he can take a hike, he should be looking after our own people. Furthermore Canada isn’t the Country with all the air pollution, its China and all the overseas Countries not us. We should not be the ones penalized for all the climate, charge China and all those manufacturing Countries for the carbon tax not us. We pay enough tax. I bet our free tax month now in a year is about August. Enough is enough I’m getting very upset about all this and I can’t stand staying in anymore, but that’s the only way to stay safe THANKS TO CHINA. I hate that Country and I praise Mr Trump for looking after his people first.
That transparency needs to include full development history on any vaccine distributed in Canada on demand. The CCP dictatorship is responsible for this pandemic ( and over 1 million murders ), so they are not entitled to get a single dime from any vaccine. We should be able to have the option to refuse any vaccine where there exists the possibility of the CCP profiting from this.
North Bay, Ontario
Worth noting: https://globalnews.ca/news/7483970/cansino-nrc-covid-vaccine/
“Chinese vaccine company executives worked in program now targeted by Western intelligence agencies”
We don’t need a vaccine for a virus with a survival rate over 99%. This rushed vaccine wouldn’t be safe; only aim is to keep the cabal elites agenda running. Nothing is about people’s health. The Government is already weakening its citizens’ immune system with irrational none-science based mandatory masks. Many doctors, virologists around the world have been censored. There are other treatments but it was banned by Trudeau government. Nothing is fair about this plandemic. I am very disappointed with Canadian government. Those irrational restrictions are violating the Canadian Charter of Freedom and Human rights. We need to stand up for our freedom before heading to totalitarian, communist system.
The sustained sinophobia in western media is unwarranted and undeserved. Given our dependence on pharmaceuticals from China and India it is rather like biting the hand that feeds us. We need to improve our critical thinking skills before we end up in a desperate situation with respect of vaccines.
You are thinking in the wrong direction. We should be reducing that foreign dependence, most especially, in the area of medicine. India is building its pharmaceutical industry on the back of environmental damage, do seriously you believe that the product quality is any better. The critical thinking skills you talk about should be telling you that the lower costs are not worth it.
North Bay, Ontario
This is where we are at, Trudeau has an undying love for the communist party and will continue to make bad deals with bad people. All I know is I am not paying one more dime of my tax money to clean up this mess!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew 13 people in my town who received CERB “only one had the legal right to” could the government not “cross reference the Disabled and social assistance collectors? I am so angry and frustrated yet we cannot say anything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Very interesting! Thanks
“Vaccine nationalism” may be an understatement here. Rather, its more like a weaponization of medicine. That should be a concern not only to our government but to every patient who takes medication. And that’s not exclusive to prescription drugs. Over the counter drugs are equally at risk. Anyone taking acetominophen (Tylenol) for headaches or pain relief should be concerned with China producing 70% of the world’s raw materials. As reported by the New York Times “Chinese pharmaceutical companies have supplied more than 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone, and 40 to 45 percent of heparin in recent years, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.”
Your article highlights what should be considered a national security threat and not just a diplomatic spat. Patients can easily be held hostage by a bogus “customs clearance” issue manufactured to advance state interests. Canadian citizens need to be alerted to the threat to their health.
A great..albeit negative article. I am imbarassed by my government .
CAHS prof Emeritus U of Guelph
Thanks for your feedback Dr. Martin. Has veterinary vaccine development ever been this political?
Well said Dr. Kulbatski. Thank you for saying what many of us are thinking.
Thanks Dr. Cargill for your feedback. Let’s hope the veil gets lifted.