Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a press conference about COVID-19 in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Sunday, March 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada to spend $192M to find vaccine for COVID-19, Trudeau says

More than 1,400 cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada

The Canadian government is investing $192 million in finding a vaccine and treatment methods for COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement from the steps of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa Monday, where he is self-isolating along with his wife, Sophie, who tested positive for the virus.

She is among more than 1,400 Canadians who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the first cases were reported in the country in February. So far, there have been 20 deaths associated with the virus.

“We’re investing in a longterm solution for COVID-19,” he said.

Trudeau said AbCellera, a Vancouver-based biotech company, is using its antibody technology to search for a treatment and vaccine in the blood samples of patients who have recovered from COVID-19.

The company has partnered with global biopharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to rapidly manufacture and distribute a treatment with the goal of beginning clinical trials in July 2020.

Medicago, based in Quebec City, has has identified a viable plant-based vaccine candidate currently at the pre-clinical testing phase.

But Trudeau started his now-daily update by scolding those Canadians who he said seem to feel “invincible,” and refusing to socially-distance.

“You’re not,” he said, urging them to think of their grandparents, grocery store employees, healthcare workers and people with compromised immune systems.

“Enough is enough. Stay home.”

The Prime Minister remained tightlipped on exactly what measures Ottawa was taking to force people to socially distance or self-isolate.

“Nothing that could help is off the table,” he told reporters.

That includes closing provincial borders: “I will be speaking with the premiers tonight.”

The much asked about Emergencies Act, Trudeau said, would take away powers from the provinces and local governments.

He said many provinces have already invoked their own emergency acts, including B.C. and Alberta.

The Prime Minister was asked about what he would do for tenants who cannot make their April 1 rent payments.

He declined to offer specific rent deferrals, despite a six-month mortgage deferral offered to homeowners. Trudeau said MPs would be working Tuesday to fast-track EI and Emergency Care Benefit payments, which he announced last week. More than half a million people have applied for EI in the past week.

Trudeau did announced some extra help for farmers and producers: an extra $5 billion available in loans through Farm Credit Canada.

VIDEO: Feds launch ad campaign urging social distancing, hygiene during COVID-19 crisis

COVID-19: Canadian cases, by province

More to come.


@katslepian

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