Ontario Construction News staff writer
The Canadian and Ontario governments are giving $470 million to vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur to build a new influenza manufacturing plant on the site of the former Connaught Laboratories in North York.
Officials said that the facility will be completed by 2026 and will produce enough “vaccine doses to support the entire Canadian population within about six months after the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies a pandemic influenza strain.
“When it comes to the next pandemic flu, we should be self-sufficient, if there is one lesson learned from the current COVID pandemic, we need to have a strong Canadian biomedicine sector,” Federal Infrastructure Minister François-Philippe Champagne said at the announcement.
“Whenever that will be, we will be prepared as a nation.”
The Connaught campus of Sanofi Pasteur – the largest manufacturer of influenza vaccines in the entire world at one time -was a state-owned research and manufacturing facility for vaccines against polio, diphtheria and smallpox until it was sold to a French pharmaceutical firm in 1989.
“We’re giving a new life to the Connaught laboratories this morning,” Champagne said.
The federal government will invest $415 million in the partnership with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd. Ontario’s government will contribute $55 million and Sanofi will spend more than $455 million to construct the facility and at least $79 million each year to fund research and development.
Since the first of three COVID-19 vaccines was approved for emergency use in Canada in Dec. 2020, Canada has been reliant on pharmaceutical manufacturers with sites in Europe and India in order to secure supplies.
Battles between different jurisdictions over vaccine shipments have been Canada fall behind much of the western world in COVID-19 vaccine deployment, with shipments in January and February sometimes slowing to almost zero. An earlier effort to build a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing plant in Canada, with the National Research Council and American pharmaceutical firm Novavax, will not be ready until late in 2021 at the earliest.
“This new investment to produce FLUZONE® High-Dose Quadrivalent will help ensure more seniors around the world are better protected against influenza. In addition, it will be a key resource to assist against future pandemics,” said Paul Hudson, chief executive officer, Sanofi.
“We welcome the ongoing partnership with the Canadian authorities, who supported us to make today’s great news a reality; this will make the country, which has a strong legacy in vaccines research and development, one of our key hubs in our effort to protect and improve human health across the globe.”
In addition to producing Sanofi’s FLUZONE® High-Dose Quadrivalent influenza vaccine, this new manufacturing facility will strategically grow Canada’s bio-manufacturing sector and install industrial scale capacity to strengthen Canada’s preparedness for future pandemics.
“This is a critical investment as it will create 300 high quality jobs and increase Ontario’s capacity to manufacture important vaccines. By supporting companies like Sanofi we will continue to strengthen our excellent pharmaceutical sector and ensure we are prepared for future public health events with Made in Ontario products,” said Premier Doug Ford.
Following design, construction, testing, and qualification of the facility and equipment, the new Toronto Site facility will be operational by 2026. Currently, Sanofi Pasteur’s Toronto Site manufactures millions of doses of vaccines annually that help protect against pertussis, polio, diphtheria, and tetanus, among others, for more than 60 countries worldwide – including Canada.
In 2018, Sanofi made another historic investment at the Toronto site to establish one of the most advanced vaccine bulk manufacturing facilities in the world. At the time, this was the largest investment ever made by Sanofi globally into a single facility, more than $500 million. This manufacturing facility will produce seven antigens: five-component-pertussis, plus diphtheria and tetanus, to help meet global demand for more life-saving vaccines for children and adults worldwide. License approval for Canada and the United States is expected in 2024 for the five-component-pertussis and in 2025 for diphtheria and tetanus.