Federal government invests $200 million to build an mRNA vaccine plant in Ontario

The federal government today announced a $200-million investment to help a Mississauga, Ont.-based company build a plant that can churn out millions of mRNA vaccines.

Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the money will be used to expand an existing site owned by Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. to provide “made-in-Canada solutions such as vaccines and treatments for future pandemics.”

The funds will expand Resilience’s manufacturing and fill-finish capacity for a number of vaccines and therapeutics, including mRNA shots like the ones now being used to fight COVID-19, Champagne said.

The government says the plant expansion will create 500 permanent jobs and 50 co-op placements for students once construction is complete in 2024.

The addition of some 55,000 square feet of factory space will allow Resilience to manufacture between 112 million and 640 million doses of mRNA product each year. The goal is to leave Canada less dependent on foreign vaccine makers when the next pandemic hits.

Resilience is a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), which means it assembles products developed by other companies.

It’s standard for big pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca, Merck and Pfizer to outsource the actual drug manufacturing process to third parties. Some companies have sold their manufacturing sites to focus on research and development. A Novartis-owned plant in Boucherville, Que. was sold to Avara, a contract manufacturing operation, in 2018.

There isn’t currently a CDMO in Canada that is capable of producing a supply of vaccines sufficient to meet national and international demands.

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