What became of the $200 million invested in antibody treatments for COVID-19?

Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
2021-01-26 21:10

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. It seems like forever ago, but I used to refer to the hon. member as my neighbour as we sat so near each other in Parliament when such a thing was allowed.

Tonight’s debate is terribly important, and I want to get a few points on the record, because I will not have a speaking occasion.

I agree with the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway that contracts should be transparent and that Canadians have a right to know on what terms we are getting vaccines. I am not as critical as some others in opposition about how things are going in getting vaccines, which were not even invented until months ago. Who could have anticipated that we needed to buy refrigerators at mega-levels of freezing? However, I am concerned. I do not know if the hon. member can answer this question. If he cannot, perhaps he could ask a member of the cabinet for help.
We were attempting to get, as a country, not just vaccines but also other treatments: antibody treatments. We saw the Department of Innovation and Science invest about $200 million in one such company located in Vancouver: AbCellera, partnered with Eli Lilly. Their treatment apparently was looking very promising. Tens of thousands of doses came to Canada, and they are potentially effective.

In terms of the suite of treatments, vaccines and preventative measures, the full suite included antibody treatments. I wonder if the hon. member knows anything about what has become of that strategy.

Francis Drouin (Glengarry—Prescott—Russell)
2021-01-26 21:13

Madam Speaker, I have to say to my colleague that I miss her too, and this is a different format.

However, if I do not have enough time to answer the complete question, I will say that any strategy we put in place will always be led by science. I know that, at the Public Health Agency of Canada, Dr. Tam is doing a great job of leading this country, and I can only applaud her.

The contract questions we can discuss after the pandemic is over. Right now I do not think it is a smart strategy to expose all of the contracts that Canada has signed, knowing that the vaccine is a rare commodity around the world.