HIV vax facility plans for sale

Some $750,000 later, the Ottawa International Centre for Infectious Diseases will not be building the HIV vaccine manufacturing plant it had designed to answer a government call. Nor will three other institutions.

All four responded to a request for bids for a world-class facility to be built and operated with funds from the government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as reported earlier. Each was informed independently that it had not won. Several weeks of silence and puzzlement followed, as all learned that none had won.

But the mystery ended late last week when the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed that the project had been scrapped. "The Government of Canada and the Gates Foundation have decided not to proceed," says a government announcement.

The $88 million pilot manufacturing facility was to be part of a $139 million partnership between Ottawa and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The facility would have provided manufacturing capacity for HIV vaccines from researchers around the world for use in clinical trials.

Though the government says that the Gates Foundation concluded the facility was unnecessary, speculation has been that politics or big-pharma influence may have forced the project's demise.

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