Vaccine syringe
© Sputnik / Vitaly Belousov
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that Canada is spending $192 million on developing and producing vaccines for the new coronavirus.

He said being prepared to mass-produce a vaccine, no matter who creates it, will be essential for suppressing COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in Canada in the long run.

"We're investing in a long-term solution to COVID-19 right here at home," Trudeau said during Monday's press briefing on the federal government's response.

The prime minister announced a partnership with Vancouver-based company AbCellera, which will focus on drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19. The government is also partnering with Quebec-based Medicago for vaccine testing and production, Trudeau said.

Medicago has produced a virus-like particle of the novel coronavirus, a first step towards producing a vaccine, which will now undergo pre-clinical testing for safety and efficacy. The company said it could begin human trials as soon as July or August, if approved by Health Canada and other agencies.

Trudeau added Monday that the government is also providing funding for the University of Saskatchewan to help carry out development and clinical trials.

"Once there are promising options, Canada needs the capacity to mass-produce treatments as quickly as possible," he said. "That's why we're investing in the National Research Council of Canada's facility in Montreal to prepare for the rollout."

Trudeau said these are "critical steps," however vaccines will take time to be available.

"They will take months to develop and test, so while that's happening, we need to work to mitigate the impacts of this virus."

Other Canadian researchers are also working on vaccinations.

A team of Western University researchers in virology, microbiology, vaccinology, bioinformatics and immunology have united in a bid to develop and test a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

They also hope to create a "vaccine bank" of several ready-made vaccines that could be used if another strain sparks a new coronavirus outbreak.

The work is backed by $998,840 in funding announced last Thursday from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is one of 96 projects funded across the country.