Day 6

Canadian scientists join the global race to find a vaccine for the coronavirus

As the coronavirus outbreak continues, a group of scientists at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization - International Vaccine Centre in Saskatoon is racing to develop a vaccine for a virus it's still trying to understand.

'Globally, people are trying to work together to control this'

Scientists at the VIDO-InterVac's (Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre) are currently researching a vaccine for the novel coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China. (David Stobbe/VIDO-InterVac/University of Saskatchewan/Reuters)
Listen9:12

A group of scientists in Saskatchewan is working to create a vaccine that would protect against multiple strains of coronavirus, including the latest that originated in Wuhan, China, and triggered a global health emergency this month.

Dr. Volker Gerdts, CEO and director of the VIDO-InterVac lab at the University of Saskatchewan, told Day 6 host Brent Bambury he expects his lab will receive a sample of the virus from the Public Health Agency of Canada next week. 

"At the current state, we actually don't require [an] infectious virus," Gerdts said. 

"But … at one point, you need to demonstrate that your vaccine works. So that testing will be done in animals. We can immunize them, but at one point we have to infect them. And for that infection, we'll need the infectious virus." 

Information about the coronavirus outbreak is spreading fast, but what do we actually know about the illness? CBC News medical contributor and family physician Dr. Peter Lin breaks down the facts about what it is, where it came from, how it spreads and what you can do to protect yourself. 5:10

The VIDO-InterVac lab is only one of several labs around the world working to find a vaccine. 

"Globally, people are trying to work together to control this," Gerdts said.

The Wuhan coronavirus is the third major outbreak of a deadly coronavirus in the past two decades. Gerdts said the goal of his lab is to create a pan-coronavirus vaccine that can immunize against several types of the virus, including future outbreaks. 

To hear the full interview with Dr. Volker Gerdts, download our podcast or click Listen above.