Mr. Speaker, the response to (a) is that the initial cornerstone of the Canadian HIV vaccine initiative (CHVI) announced in February 2007 was the establishment in Canada of a pilot-scale HIV vaccine manufacturing facility to produce clinical trial lots. The facility was intended to address the global shortage in pilot-scale manufacturing initially identified by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an alliance of independent organizations around the world dedicated to accelerating the development of preventive HIV vaccines.
Consultations were held in late 2007 by CHVI participating departments/agencies, including the Canadian International Development Agency, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Health Canada and Industry Canada and the Gates Foundation, to seek expert input on how to move forward with establishing a facility in Canada. Based on this consultation, a process was launched in April 2008 to select a not-for-profit corporation to build, operate and manage the facility.
As part of the participating departments/agencies’ and Gates Foundation’s review processes, both the participating departments/agencies and the Gates Foundation received input from external experts and undertook internal analyses related to value for money and other factors. On March 17, 2009, the Public Health Agency of Canada was informed that an analysis of the current vaccine manufacturing capacity in North America and Europe would be part of the Gates Foundation’s internal review process.
The response to (b) is that in late June 2009, the Gates Foundation informally shared preliminary results of the report with the Public Health Agency of Canada. The study results were presented to officials from participating CHVI departments/agencies on July 16, 2009.
The response to (c) is that further to regular informal discussions, two teleconferences between participating CHVI departments/agencies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were held on July 16th and July 31st to discuss the report. In addition, face-to-face meetings and/or teleconferences were held on September 28, 2009; December 21, 2009; March 2, 25 and 26, 2010; April 15, 22 and 29, 2010; May 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2010; and, June 3, 17 and 24, 2010 to discuss the renewal of the CHVI. In July 2010, at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, the Government of Canada and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation renewed their commitment of up to $139 million to implement the Canadian HIV vaccine initiative.
The response to (d) is that the minister’s office was informed of the report following the July 2009 teleconference between participating CHVI departments/ agencies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Given the importance of the CHVI and continuing commitment amongst partners to making progress on overall objectives, all options were examined to yield the best results.
This was an important decision that the Government of Canada and the Gates Foundation could not take lightly nor make quickly. The decision was based on a number of factors. A thorough, evidence-based review of all applications was completed. This included an internal review and external review by an international expert panel. None of the applicants were found to be successful in meeting the pre-established criteria.
Additionally, as part of the due diligence process, the Gates Foundation commissioned a study on vaccine manufacturing capacity. This study demonstrated that there was sufficient vaccine manufacturing capacity in North America and Europe to meet research needs.
After weighing all of the evidence, the Government of Canada and the Gates Foundation decided not to proceed with the vaccine manufacturing facility.