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USask VIDO-InterVac. (Photo: David Stobbe) 

USask VIDO-InterVac expands international role to test antiviral compounds against COVID-19

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-InterVac) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has been awarded a grant of almost $830,000 from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to determine the effectiveness of several antiviral compounds against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator was launched in March by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard, with additional funding from a range of donors, to help speed the discovery and scale-up of effective treatments against COVID-19. 
 
Testing will occur in VIDO-InterVac’s world-class containment Level 3-agriculture (CL3-Ag) facility using a hamster model of SARS-CoV-2 infection, a model meant to mimic human infections. 
 
“This important project is evidence of the collaborative global response to fight COVID-19,” said VIDO-InterVac Director Dr. Volker Gerdts. “The ultimate goal is to develop a safe solution to end this pandemic as quickly as possible. 
 
As a world leader in infectious disease research and vaccine development for humans and animals, VIDO-InterVac frequently works with companies and research institutes in the fight against COVID-19. VIDO-InterVac is currently engaged with more than 80 organizations globally to test antivirals, vaccines, and other therapeutics. 
 
On the front lines of the global effort to develop a vaccine, VIDO-InterVac continues to advance its COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including a formulation with an adjuvant (a component that helps vaccines work better by boosting immune response) developed by VIDO-InterVac and its partners as part of the original Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 
 
With one of the largest and most advanced CL3-Ag research facilities in the world, VIDO-InterVac was the first in Canada to isolate SARS-CoV-2 and the first in the country to establish an animal model for testing vaccines, antivirals and therapeutics. 
 
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator advances and evaluates new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19 in the immediate term, and other viral pathogens in the longer term. For more information, visit: www.therapeuticsaccelerator.org  

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