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Tories kill plans for HIV-vaccine manufacturing plant

Three years after announcing the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative — a program that diverted money from local AIDS groups — the Conservative government has killed plans to build a facility to manufacture HIV vaccines for clinical trials.

A press release suggests that the government couldn’t find any Canadian bidders who met the “criteria” (no details about what those criteria are) and that there’s no longer a need for the facility in Canada: 

"None of the applicants were found to be successful in meeting the pre-established criteria.
part of the due diligence process, a study commissioned by the [Bill & Melinda] Gates
Foundation to analyse current vaccine manufacturing capacity concluded
that there is currently sufficient vaccine manufacturing capacity in
North America and Europe to meet research needs.” (Read the full release here)

The Globe and Mail reports that the rejected bidders are demanding answers. One of the bidders, a former head of Winnipeg’s International Centre for Infectious Diseases, said the government’s explanation was “bogus” and that politics are at play. Ted Hewitt, VP of research at the University of Western Ontario, was skeptical of the government’s claim that no Canadian bidders were sufficiently qualified. Read more at the Globe and Mail.

(Note that the announcement was made on a Friday, during an onslaught of Olympic coverage. Smells like slimy PR tactics.)

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