COVID-19 Variant Supplement – Rapid bench-to-human development of safe and effective aerosol vaccine strategies against Covid-19
The pandemic of Covid-19 caused by respiratory SARS-CoV-2 infection has brought the world to a standstill. The physical-distancing strategy currently implemented in the pandemic aims to prevent the majority of Canadians from being infected by SARS-CoV-2. While this is an essential short-term strategy to save lives, it will paradoxically leave the majority of our citizens without protective immunity against Covid-19. Thus, the majority of Canadians will be susceptible to the next waves of Covid-19. The only effective way to prevent new outbreaks from getting out of control is to establish herd immunity via implementing a safe and effective vaccination program prior to the next waves of Covid-19. High-risk Canadians including healthcare workers, seniors and indigenous people are especially in need of such vaccine-induced protective immunity. A global effort has been initiated to identify effective Covid-19 vaccines, testing a variety of vaccine platforms and strategies. Unfortunately, only a few of them are being developed and tested in Canada and almost none of them are designed to target respiratory mucosal immunity. To fill the gap, via the effort from a multi-disciplinary McMaster Team we have been rapidly developing innovative recombinant viral-vectored Covid-19 vaccine strategies to target the desired respiratory mucosal immunity. Our Team has internationally recognized reputation in bench-to-human translational vaccine research. Particularly relevant to the proposal is our strong expertise in advanced viral vector bioengineering, vaccine efficacy testing in small animal models at CL3 facility, clinical-grade vaccine production at GMP manufacturing facility, optimized inhaled aerosol vaccine delivery method, and clinical vaccine trials. We are confident that our project will make available to Canadians a superb, needle/pain-free vaccine strategy capable of potent respiratory mucosal protection against Covid-19.