VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver biotech company is getting worldwide attention for its role in helping develop a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

That vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, is the first to announce results of Phase 3 trials. 

In a news release Monday, the companies said their vaccine candidate was found to be more than 90 per cent effective.

The vaccine’s delivery system was developed by Vancouver’s Acuitas Therapeutics.

“This is Canadian technology which is critically enabling this vaccine,” said Thomas Madden, the company’s CEO and president.

Acuitas developed lipid nanoparticles that act as “delivery vehicles” for the mRNA vaccine. It takes the mRNA through the body, and into the cells, before the body breaks it down.

Madden said not many people are aware that Vancouver is a hub for this area of biotechnology, calling Monday’s news, “excellent.”

Pfizer’s study enrolled 43,538 participants from six countries. The vaccine requires two doses, taken three weeks apart.

No serious safety concerns were observed, but the findings have not yet been submitted for peer review.

Pfizer and BioNTech said in their media release they plan to submit data from the full Phase 3 trial for scientific peer-review publication.

As for when a vaccine could actually be ready, the companies said based on current projections, “we expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.”

Canada has ordered 20 million doses and is waiting for data expected from nine other vaccines that are currently in late-stage trials around the world.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will pose a challenge for distribution, because it needs to be stored at -75 degrees Celsius. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said distribution “will require some very careful cooperation with provinces and with supply chains,” but that he hopes to see vaccines distributed early next year.