The Race to a COVID-19 Vaccine

By: Kirsten Lewis, Think Research VP R&D, CNephC, BSc, MN

Are we facing a second wave of COVID-19 in Canada? Or is it already here?

It’s a hotly debated topic in healthcare, politics and around conference and dinner tables across our country. What we know for certain is that the increase in COVID-19 cases we are seeing in most provinces is concerning and the race to develop a vaccine to prevent the disease is a global priority.

I’m so pleased we had the chance to host a webinar with Dr. Dion Neame, who is Country Medical Head and Vaccine Research Lead for Sanofi Canada. It was a unique opportunity to ask some of those burning questions we all have about potential vaccines with someone who is truly at the leading edge of that work.

Here are my key takeaways from our conversation with Dr. Neame:

  1. Speed does not mean skipping any steps. While we all want to see a vaccine soon, it doesn’t mean that clinical trials would ever cut corners or compromise safety. When a vaccine is approved in Canada, we should feel very confident that it is safe.
  1. We’ve seen some limited success with COVID-19 treatments but nothing that is having a remarkable impact on reducing the severity of the disease in sick patients. The most effective treatments so far seem to be steroids that have had some success in reducing inflammation, likely in the lungs of people with severe illness.
  1. There are four different categories of potential COVID-19 vaccines and hundreds of vaccine candidates being studied right now. We have many reasons to be hopeful because of the energy and scientific expertise being poured into this mission right now. But it takes time to develop a safe and effective vaccine that passes our country’s rigorous testing.
  1. We’re likely looking at mid-2021 before we have vaccines that have been approved, produced and are ready to be used in Canada.

I would encourage you to watch the webinar and let us know what you think — email us at