Inside a lab at the University of Saskatchewan's Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. (Photo: David Stobbe)

CEPI awards USask’s VIDO $6M for vaccine development

The Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has received approximately CAN$6 million from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Director and CEO of VIDO, Dr. Volker Gerdts. (Photo: David Stobbe)

This is CEPI’s first ever award to a Canadian university. The award is part of CEPI’s $200-million program to advance the development of vaccines that provide broad protection against COVID-19 variants and other coronaviruses.

CEPI is a leading global partnership launched in 2017 to develop vaccines against future epidemics. CEPI’s global membership has representation from all continents and includes public, private, philanthropic and civil society organizations.

VIDO’s funding will be used to establish proof of concept for new vaccines that are broadly protective against COVID-19 variants and are suitable for use in low- and middle-income countries. The platform involves identifying vaccine targets, vaccine formulation, manufacturing process development and preclinical testing. It can also be adapted to develop vaccines for other coronaviruses as well as future high-consequence infectious diseases that have yet to emerge.

Partnering in the project is the Vaccine Formulation Institute (VFI) in Switzerland. VFI developed the Sepivac SWE™ adjuvant in collaboration with its industrial partner Seppic (a company of Air Liquide group).

This project builds on COVID-19 research funded by the Government of Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan through Innovation Saskatchewan. VIDO’s COVID-19 vaccine, COVAC-2, is formulated with Sepivac SWE™ and is currently in clinical trials.

CEPI has a $3.5-billion, five-year plan, which aims to reduce or even eliminate the future risk of pandemics and epidemics.


“Developing globally accessible vaccines which are broadly protective against COVID-19 variants is imperative for global health security. Through this new partnership with VIDO we are taking the first steps towards achieving that goal.”
­- Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO, CEPI

“This significant investment is an endorsement of VIDO’s international role in fighting COVID-19 and future pandemics. VIDO’s achievements are just one example of how our university is delivering research the world needs.”
Peter Stoicheff, President, University of Saskatchewan

“We are committed to advancing technologies that protect global health including citizens in low- and middle-income countries. CEPI’s support will help develop a platform for the rapid development of vaccines for emerging diseases.”
- Dr. Volker Gerdts, Director and CEO, VIDO

“Canada has world-class expertise in vaccine research, thanks in part to the leadership of VIDO and its scientists. Today’s announcement will propel Canada to the forefront of vaccine development for COVID-19 variants and strengthen our country’s pandemic preparedness.”
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“VIDO is a leader in research, development and production of new vaccines in Saskatchewan. The scientific infrastructure and collaborative post-secondary institutions in our province create a unique environment to launch innovative initiatives that benefit the world.”
- The Honourable Jeremy Harrison, Minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan

“Even before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, VIDO’s expert team was the first in Canada to isolate the virus, develop a model of the disease, and have a candidate vaccine in pre-clinical testing. Sustained investments in VIDO have enabled it to do the work critical to the development of possible solutions by scientists and organizations from across Canada and around the world.”
- Baljit Singh, Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan

“The Vaccine Formulation Institute is committed to work with VIDO on this project and contribute to the development of affordable pandemic vaccines by providing our adjuvant and formulation expertise.”
- Dr. Nicolas Collin, Co-Founder and CEO, VFI