“The challenge, and it is very difficult for many people to grasp, is that we must not vaccinate only an individual, or even the whole of a city like Sherbrooke, but that we must vaccinate the ‘whole planet’, argues Pierre Gervais, President and CEO of Q&T Research Sherbrooke.
“When I hear people say that they are now correct because they are vaccinated, I correct them. Because no, we are not correct when we are vaccinated individually. As long as the whole planet is not vaccinated, the virus will remain. It will change, we can already see it with the variants. Is he at risk of becoming resistant to vaccines? I don’t hope so, but everything is possible today, ”explains Mr. Gervais, who is also a pharmacist.
“It saddens me to say it, but I think normalcy is behind us. We are not going to put away our masks the next day after receiving a vaccine, ”adds Mr. Gervais.
A new vaccine in the arsenal
On the planet, several vaccines have been developed and have been administered for several months already. Of course, we are thinking of those from Pfizer-BionTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca, but there are also other vaccines that have been developed in Russia and China.
In the coming months, a vaccine developed in Canada could be added to the arsenal of tools developed to fight this coronavirus.
Indeed, the vaccine candidate of the Quebec biopharmaceutical company Medicago against SARS-CoV-2 has just passed the second phase of clinical trials. Phase III of the clinical trial will begin soon and aims to recruit 30,000 candidates in several countries around the world.
Q&T Recherche de Sherbrooke is one of the research centers that have been selected to recruit candidates who wish to participate in the phase.
In countries with an emerging economy
If Medicago’s vaccine candidate is released later this year, it may be too late to market it in Canada when the majority of citizens have had access to a vaccine.
“I believe that the vaccine could be used in countries with emerging economies initially,” underlines Pierre Gervais.
But there are probably a few rounds to go against this coronavirus.
“We in Canada are equipped to face conventional wars. We have an army, equipment, tanks… What we produce with Medicago are lines of defense against a virus ”, image Pierre Gervais.
According to him, it is not impossible that Canadians will be called upon in the coming years to be vaccinated against influenza, as every year, but that we can also add a vaccine against COVID-19. Only the future will tell.
“It is all the interest to have the capacity to produce our own vaccine in Canada”, indicates Pierre Gervais.
But before marketing, Medicago will have to complete phase III of its clinical trials. And the Estrians are called to contribute to it.
“We are looking for people in good health in general so that a pre-existing condition or disease cannot be confused with the effects of the vaccine or COVID,” explains Pierre Gervais.
The phase III study will begin shortly in Sherbrooke.
“A total of 30,000 participants will be invited to participate in the phase III clinical study. Europe and Latin America will be added to North America. More than 130 countries will contribute with 15 sites in Canada, including eight in Quebec. The expected number of volunteers for Canada is approximately 2,500 participants, ”explains Karine Côté, Director of Business Development at Q&T Research.
The first two phases of clinical research went well. “The preliminary results of phase I confirm that the participants who received the experimental vaccine containing an adjuvant developed a strong immune response after two doses. The positive data from the phase I and II clinical trials made it possible to better define the dose to be used in the future, ie 3.75 mcg compared to 7.5 and 15 mcg. A smaller dose is an important advantage in maximizing vaccine production. In addition, the candidate vaccine is used at a temperature of 2-8 ° C. It is a refrigerator temperature, much more accessible than a lower temperature, which is difficult to achieve in countries such as Peru or Indonesia, ”says the general manager of Q&T Research.
Estriens interested in contributing to science can consult the Q&T Recherche Sherbrooke website at www.qtrecherche.com or contact the research team at 819 562-0777.
What are the motivations of the volunteers who will accept to receive a candidate vaccine?
“Usually in clinical research projects, there are three types of motivation. For diseases like Alzheimer’s, some people want access to cutting-edge treatments that will be available other than in a few years. This is not the case here, because several vaccines will be available in the coming months for all Canadians, ”says Mr. Gervais.
“In other cases, the motivation is financial, but it’s not as we only reimburse the travel expenses – it’s less than $ 150 per person,” he adds.
“The other main motivation is contributing to society. People say: we have a problem, and I want to do my part to solve it, ”he says.
And it’s not just seniors or young people who have this strong sense of wanting to advance science. “You see people of all ages,” says Gervais.