Frequently Asked Questions

1. What type of vaccine is VIDO developing?

We are developing subunit vaccines. Subunit vaccines contain purified viral proteins (an antigen) that are not infectious, and often also contain an adjuvant. VIDO’s vaccines are using the S1 spike protein from the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus uses this protein to enter your cells. Blocking the protein blocks entry. An adjuvant is a compound that helps your body produce a better immune response against the antigen, so the vaccine works better.

We have two COVID-19 vaccines in development—they contain the same antigen, but different adjuvants:

  • COVAC-1 is formulated with an adjuvant originally developed by VIDO in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, the International Vaccine Institute, and Dalhousie University as part of the original Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This adjuvant has demonstrated to be very effective in multiple pre-clinical trials against other infectious diseases. It promotes a specific immune response that could help induce longer-term immunity.
  • COVAC-2 is formulated with Sepivac SWE™, an adjuvant developed by the Vaccine Formulation Institute (VFI) and commercialized by Seppic. It is a squalene (oil)-in-water adjuvant and is based on technology recognized for its efficacy and safety in influenza vaccines.

Subunit vaccines are a more traditional vaccine technology that is used in several commercially available vaccines and historically have an excellent safety record. These types of vaccines also are fairly stable, which helps in  storage and transport, making them attractive for use in remote areas. Subunit vaccines developed against other diseases are given to Canadians daily.

2. How is VIDO’s antigen produced?

VIDO’s antigen is produced using a human continuous cell line called HEK293. HEK293 are human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells that were made into a continuous cell line in experiment 293 by Dr. Frank Graham over 50 years ago. Since then, they have been used in scientific labs around the world and been modified by scientists in a variety of ways to optimize them for the production of therapeutics and vaccines. HEK293 cells are used to make other vaccines against COVID-19, such as AZD1222, the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Once the antigen is produced in the HEK293 cell culture it is purified to remove other materials in the manufacturing process. 

3. How can I volunteer in clinical trials for VIDO’s COVID-19 vaccines?

Information about clinical trials is posted on our COVID-19 vaccine trails page.

4. When will VIDO’s vaccine be available to the public?

This is difficult to predict as regulatory approval is outside of our control, however, we will continue to conduct clinical trials.  


Please contact us if you have additional questions. 

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