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January 28, 2010

Canada Stalls Plans for HIV Vaccine Production Facility

The Canadian government’s $88 million initiative to build an HIV-vaccine manufacturing facility has stalled without an explanation, reports The Globe and Mail.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the initiative—which received partial funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—nearly three years ago. However, it was delayed several months, and the Public Health Agency of Canada said on its website last week that the project was canceled. The agency has since removed the posting, citing it “as a result of an administrative error.”

“Moving forward, the Government of Canada and the Gates Foundation continue to work together with the aim of accelerating the development of a safe, effective, affordable and accessible HIV vaccine,” a spokesperson for Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement.

The four research organizations competing for the vaccine project, including the University of Western Ontario, have confirmed that the government has not yet selected a bid. Ted Hewitt, vice president of research at the university, told The Globe and Mail that he is “pretty much convinced the competition is now dead.”

Hewitt said the need for the HIV vaccine facility still exists, and he affirmed that all finalists were willing to work together no matter who won the bid. He added, “Canada is the real loser.”

Search: Canada, vaccine, Gates Foundation, University of Western Ontario

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