This 2020 electron microscope made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention image shows the spherical coronavirus particles from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. A recent study sparked some worry last week when it revealed a mutation “of urgent concern” in the virus responsible for COVID-19. But experts say more research is needed to determine what that really means.The preliminary, non peer-reviewed study from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico indicated that a COVID-19 strand containing a specific mutation — on the spike protein D614G — is emerging as the dominant form of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-C.S. Goldsmith, A. Tamin/ CDC via AP

This 2020 electron microscope made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention image shows the spherical coronavirus particles from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. A recent study sparked some worry last week when it revealed a mutation “of urgent concern” in the virus responsible for COVID-19. But experts say more research is needed to determine what that really means.The preliminary, non peer-reviewed study from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico indicated that a COVID-19 strand containing a specific mutation — on the spike protein D614G — is emerging as the dominant form of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-C.S. Goldsmith, A. Tamin/ CDC via AP

Halifax lab team to conduct first Canadian trials for possible COVID-19 vaccine

Lab was involved in trials that led to creation of Ebola vaccine

The first Canadian clinical trials for a possible COVID-19 vaccine will be conducted by a Halifax research team that also was involved in trials that eventually led to a vaccine for the Ebola virus.

Health Canada has approved trials that will be conducted at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.

The centre’s director, Dr. Scott Halperin, says the lab was one of several in Canada and the U.S. whose work starting in 2014 eventually saw an “emergency release” of an Ebola vaccine that was used in West Africa before a third phase of clinical trials had been completed.

Halperin said each lab did slightly different studies in order to get the right type of information before quickly moving to the second phase and then the third.

“The Phase 1 studies were done and within six months the data were available and the phase three studies were started in West Africa which then helped to actually stop the epidemic,” he said in an interview.

Halperin said it’s possible the same emergency release could happen in Canada with a potential COVID-19 vaccine if it shows potential and is deemed safe, expediting a process that usually takes a number of years to complete — anywhere from five to seven years under normal circumstances.

“That would be something that Health Canada and the Canadian government would have to decide whether they wanted to do that. But it is certainly one of the options in the tool kit of things they can do to expedite the process if this or any other vaccine is looking promising.”

READ MORE: First clinical trial for potential COVID-19 vaccine in Canada approved: Trudeau

Halperin pointed out that despite its early use during testing, the Ebola vaccine wasn’t actually licensed as a regular marketed vaccine until late last year.

However, he cautions there’s much work to be done before a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use.

The Halifax researchers will be following up work by Chinese manufacturer CanSino Biologics, which is already conducting human clinical trials for the vaccine.

Halperin said the first phase trial should be underway within the next three weeks once final approval is given by the centre’s research ethics board.

Phase 1 will involve fewer than 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 who will be followed over the next six months.

“We want to make sure that the vaccine is safe first in younger individuals before we go into people who may be at higher risk,” Halperin said.

The participants are given a dose of the vaccine and are clinically monitored through a series of blood tests. They are also asked to record their symptoms in a diary so the researchers can have even more information.

“We collect any type of symptoms they might have whether they think it’s related to the vaccine or not,” said Halperin.

Each participant will make between nine and 13 visits to the centre during the first phase of the study.

If the initial test group shows a safe immune response to the vaccine, Halperin said researchers will quickly transition into an expanded second phase study before the first phase is even completed.

That would involve hundreds of people of all ages, including those aged 65 to 85, and would be administered by several other research centres across the country that are part of the Canadian Immunization Research Network.

Halperin said the network was set up by the federal government in 2009 as part of the response to the H1N1 pandemic. He said the intent was to create the necessary infrastructure to respond rapidly to an emergency and to do early phase clinical trials so vaccines would be available in Canada.

“This is a good test of that (network),” Halperin said of clinical trials that will be the first of “many more to come.”

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

When Langley City resident Dale Attrell, 92, seen here walking in Douglas Park on Saturday, Jan. 10, started a walking club for seniors, it filled up quickly. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
Outrunning COVID: a Langley City senior starts a walking club

When Dale Attrell launched a group for older people to go on walks together, it filled up quickly

Langley’s Jim Orlowski, a regular contributor to Through Your Lens, shared this picture of some bird swimming around in Brydon Lagoon. They were spotted while he was walking along the trail in the Nicomekl flood plains. They frequently cross paths with dozens of other walkers and park visitors enjoying the trail on a bright winter day. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
SHARE: Bird friends from Brydon

Send us your photo showing how you view Langley, and it could be featured in a future edition

Mark Chandler, outside of his extradition hearing at the Vancouver Supreme Court. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley condo builder’s fraud sentencing in U.S. delayed due to COVID-19

Mark Chandler’s own lawyer contracted COVID-19 in December

People have noticed pine siskins dying in the area, part of a trend of larger numbers of the finch flocking to the area about every five years. The larger numbers result in crowding and increased spread of salmonella. (Wikipedia photo)
Langley birdwatchers seeing dead finch species in higher numbers

Pine siskins are in the area in larger numbers. They are prone to salmonella which is fatal for them

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Most Read