International Vaccine Centre (InterVac)

The International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), one of the largest vaccine research laboratories in North America, is nearing completion. Research conducted at InterVac will contribute to the development of vaccines to protect people and animals from the threat of diseases as diverse as hepatitis C, SARS, HIV, tuberculosis, and avian influenza.

InterVac will be one of the first containment level 3 (CL3) facilities in Western Canada equipped to handle both human and large animal diseases. Although many Canadian laboratories are rated to Level 3, InterVac will be one of only a few CL3 facilities in the world capable of supporting large animal vaccine trials.

To create the airtight rooms and environments necessary for a containment facility of this nature, strict monitoring in all areas of construction, certification, and operation are required. With construction complete, the facility has undergone full commissioning of its extensive mechanical and electrical systems—almost 75% of the 13,670-square-metre facility will house complex building support systems. Rigorous testing of all systems in both normal and abnormal operational conditions was conducted to confirm correct operation under all circumstances. The building was also run through multiple failure scenarios to assure that all back-up and redundant systems are properly activated.

Once the facility is fully commissioned, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Public Health Agency of Canada must certify that the facility is safe for work with the approved pathogens. This certification process involves not only site inspections and review of all construction documents, but also a review of the standard operating procedures for all tasks performed in the facility.

The certification process is currently underway.  The building has been turned over to VIDO–InterVac for occupancy. There are a number of scientific trials that are ready to be conducted immediately upon the certification of the facility.

The InterVac grand opening was held on September 16, 2011, and was attended by representatives from all funding partners, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Brad Wall, Mayor Don Atchison, and a number of other senior government officials and university representatives.