MSF in Agok, South Sudan. © Valérie Batselaere/MSF

MSF responds to announcement of manufacturing plans for Novavax COVID-19 vaccine (NVX-CoV2373) in Canada


Ottawa, February 2, 2021 – Today, the Canadian government announced a memorandum of understanding with pharmaceutical company Novavax to produce the company’s vaccine against COVID-19 (NVX-CoV2373) at the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Royalmount manufacturing facility in Montreal. Canada expects to be able to produce approximately 2 million doses of the vaccine per month.


Quote from Jason Nickerson, Humanitarian Affairs Advisor for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

“As Canada looks to expand its biomanufacturing capacity for vaccines and other health technologies, it’s essential we look not only at how best to meet domestic Canadian needs, but how to ensure this capacity will also help us respond to global unmet needs for COVID-19 and other vaccines. Today, the global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is clearly inequitable, with many healthcare workers and other vulnerable people in low- and middle-income countries still unlikely to even start receiving vaccine doses any time soon. This inequity is, unfortunately, nothing new – it’s a symptom of a wildly dysfunctional global pharmaceutical industry that is not set up to ensure global equitable access to lifesaving vaccines and medicines or to prioritize diseases with significant public health burdens or threats.

Today’s announcement can and should be a welcome first Canadian step towards changing this dynamic. By setting its sights on expanding biomanufacturing capacity here in the months ahead, Canada can potentially not only improve its ability to meet the needs of Canadians affected by this pandemic, but also be better placed to contribute to a global supply of urgently needed vaccines and medicines. We must also ensure our public health spending aligns with both our domestic and global public health priorities.

This commitment goes beyond biomanufacturing capacity. Canadian public funding in support of the research and development of urgently needed treatments, vaccines and diagnostics is an important part of ensuring access to these medical technologies for Canadians and people everywhere. However, Canadian public funding for medical research and development does not, as a rule, come with any safeguards attached to guarantee or even attempt to ensure the essential medicines we pay to help develop will be made accessible and affordable for patients around the world, including Canadians.

That is why MSF has been calling on Canada to make immediate changes to the way it funds medical research and development, by attaching conditions related to accessibility, affordability and transparency to the hundreds of millions of dollars of public funding it invests in this way every year. MSF recently delivered a petition, signed by 91,206 Canadians, expressing this demand and calling on Canada’s government to make these straightforward and common-sense changes.

MSF welcomes an expanded Canadian capacity to produce the vaccines needed to protect vulnerable people from deadly diseases, including COVID-19. We hope this marks the beginning of a renewed investment in improved access to essential medicines — not just in Canada but for people around the world.”