Sask. announces pandemic research funding


The Saskatchewan government is giving VIDO $15 million to continue pandemic research, as long as Ottawa provides funding, too.

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan has been working on vaccines for COVID-19, and Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe said the money should go toward a new facility to position VIDO as Canada’s Centre for Pandemic Research.

The facility would include an upgrade to Level 4 containment facilities, which allow researchers to work safely on the most seriously animal and human diseases. The only Level 4 facility in Canada right now is in Winnipeg at the National Microbiology Lab.

According to a news release, VIDO was originally designed and built to accommodate this expansion and upgrade of about 2,000 sq. feet.

The centre would “also provide critical animal housing for multiple species and significantly reduce the time required to advance vaccine development to human clinical trials,” the release said.

The research centre would also be able to develop and train a workforce for Canada.

The project has already received funding commitments from the City of Saskatoon and private donors. Moe has written to the federal government asking for it to support VIDO’s request for $45 million.

“This support from the government of Saskatchewan is critical in strengthening VIDO’s position as a national centre focused on pandemic research and preparedness,” said VIDO director Dr. Volker Gerdts.

“The investment will help ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to protect Canadians from future emerging infectious diseases.”