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. 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 (coronavirus vaccine-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 be valuable to induce longer-term immunity.
  • COVAC-2 is formulated with Sepivac SWE™, an adjuvant developed by Seppic and the Vaccine Formulation Institute (VFI). It is a squalene (oil)-in-water adjuvant and is based on technology recognized for its efficacy and safety in influenza vaccines.

2. How is the VIDO’s antigen produced?

VIDO’s antigen is produced using HEK293 cells. HEK293 are human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells. The cells were transformed 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.

Once the antigen is produced in the HEK293 cell culture it is made ultra-pure through a purification process. 

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

To volunteer for clinical trials please visit our COVID-19 vaccine trails page

4. What is the current stage of vaccine development?

COVAC-2 is in Phase 1 clinical trials. We are aiming to start clinical trials with COVAC-1 this spring (2021).

Vaccines must undergo Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials, which need approval to start by the national regulatory agency. These trials help to demonstrate safety, immunogenicity and effectiveness before a vaccine can receive regulatory approval and be recommended for wide-spread use. In Canada, the approval is by Health Canada through the Biologic and Radiopharmaceutical Drugs Directorate (BRDD), and recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). 

5. 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 over the next year and hope to apply for regulatory review and approval in 2022.


This page will be updated regularly – please contact us if you have additional questions. 

Updated: April 22, 2021 

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