The Canadian government is showing patience and tenacity sticking with Chinese vaccine partner CanSino Biologics, despite the fact that even after a formal agreement was in place, the vaccine supply is delayed for some untold reasons. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently told reporters they are still in the deal despite the delay. With a prominent Canadian site in Halifax ramped up and waiting, an uneasy situation unfolds. TrialSite suggests to Mr. Trudeau to consider a Plan B, just in case.
Good Faith Partnership?
TrialSite covered the Canadian and CanSino Biologics deal with interest. Frankly, it was a surprise given the mounting political tensions between the two countries. The founders of CanSino Biologics actually conceived of the idea while working in Canada, so the actual idea for the company is right out of Canada.
But even after negotiations and press releases with clinical trial timelines, the Chinese government failed to sign-off on releasing the drug export to Canada, reports CTV News. By May 16, Health Canada gave the approval nod to Ad5-nCoV, and as TrialSite reported, the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (CCV) out of Dalhousie University in Halifax started ramping up in preparation to initiate the study.
That Canada seeks to diversity its portfolio of investigational vaccine prospects is not even a question. Prime Minister Trudeau commented that “We’re trying to follow all the different paths we can to ensure that when a vaccine is developed, Canada will be part of it, or will have access to it.” Although, he reported that Canadian intellectual property should be protected. He emphasized that Canada has some of the world’s top researchers collaborating with others around the work to develop a vaccine that could end the pandemic.
But TrialSite suggests there is potential trouble here. CanSino Biologics and their partners in the Chinese government may be complicit in violating international ethical standards if recent allegations have any merit (e.g. preclinical stage human testing). Moreover, in a controversial move the company was allowed to bypass a Phase 3 in China and work directly with the military to vaccine its members with a product that isn’t completed. And based on the data flowing out, the product still leaves some big questions. Consequently, the company is shopping for Phase 3 countries.
But then why delay Canada, a strong Western partner and a lucrative market? Trudeau told the press that “We’re obviously continuing to work with the Chinese government to ensure this work can continue in an uninterrupted fashion.” One problem, Mr. Trudeau: they have already interrupted the dedicated research apparatus geared up at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Consider a plan B. TrialSite suspects the risk associated with Ad5-nCoV is growing, ironically, as it gains more exemptions locally.