Calgary-based COVID-19 vaccine makers Providence Therapeutics want out of Canada

The CEO of Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics, a company currently developing a Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine, says he is disgusted with the level of “apathy” from all levels of government during the global pandemic.

“We are not doing a good job in Canada,” Brad Sorenson said Saturday.

He says Canada has been focused too closely on securing vaccines that are in limited supply and no longer wants to be part of that “culture.”

Sorenson said a move would allow the company to work with the World Health Organization and COVAX.

Read more: Manitoba agrees to purchase 2M doses of Providence Therapeutics coronavirus vaccine

“I’m concerned Canada is not the best and most competitive place to run a company,” the CEO said.

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Manitoba was set to purchase 2 million doses of Providence Therapeutics’ vaccine, dubbed PTX-COVID19-B.

The deal, announced back in February, would cost the government $36 million and include a $7.2 million non-refundable down payment.

Sorenson said a draft of a “definitive agreement” has not been signed by himself or the province of Manitoba.

“I don’t want to do anything that’s going to disadvantage the only government in Canada that actually stepped up and tried to do something,” Sorenson said. “Under no circumstances is Manitoba going to be on the hook for $7.2 million unless they get real value out of it.”

A spokesperson for the province also confirmed to Global News the agreement with Providence Therapeutics has not been finalized and no payments have been made.

Read more: Manitoba deal for potential coronavirus vaccine worth $36M: Pallister

“While Providence is the developer of the vaccine, their Canadian partners Northern RNA and Emergent Biosolutions remain an integral part of Providence’s vaccine production plans,” the statement said. “A finalized agreement would still result in vaccines for Manitoba being produced at Emergent’s facility in Winnipeg.”

The CEO said the Manitoba government has been in contact with the company weekly asking how progress was going on the vaccine and if Manitobans could be included in clinical trials.

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Sorenson said Providence’s vaccine is “fantastic” and will be releasing data from phase one of its clinical trial the week of May 10.

“It’s going to be perfectly clear that we have a world-class vaccine,” Sorenson claimed.

He also said Providence Therapeutics has not heard from the federal government on its vaccine proposal.

Sorenson added moving business to the U.S. would potentially speed up the process and said they may run trials originally planned for Canada in India instead.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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