Canadian Network of Vaccine Researchers’ National Funding Grant Not Renewed
The Canadian Network for Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics -- a government-run group of researchers working on vaccines for diseases such as HIV/AIDS and SARS -- learned last week it will not receive $34 million in funding that it had requested from the Canadian government, the Toronto Star reports. The network, which is part of the government's Networks of Centres of Excellence, had been given an initial grant of $30 million for 1999 through 2005 and proposed a renewal of the seven-year grant plus $4 million to cover the cost of clinical trials. However, the funding proposal was rejected by an independent review committee and the NCE steering committee. NCE Director Jean Claude Gavrel said he would not discuss the reason why the funding request was rejected but said one objective of the research networks is "to generate money for Canada." CANVAC Chair Michael Klein said the review committee did not think the group would be able to generate enough money to independently operate, which would be required after 14 years of national funding. "They did not understand this was the only way for Canada to be the first country to test these vaccines and also have a business agreement that would allow it to get royalties to re-inject into research," Klein said. CANVAC Scientific Director Rafick Sekaly said the decision is being reviewed by Industry Canada, a department of the government that deals with economic issues. However, Ian Jack, a spokesperson for Industry Minister David Emerson, said there is no means for an appeal of the decision. Gavrel said the loss of national funding will not bring an end to research conducted by CANVAC scientists because they receive funding from other sources. CANVAC has agreements with Swiss and French pharmaceutical companies to develop and test HIV and hepatitis C vaccines and a Canadian pharmaceutical company to develop a cancer vaccine (Carey, Toronto Star, 7/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.