The Trudeau government will give a U.S.-based pharmaceutical manufacturer with a plant in Mississauga $200 million to help fund future manufacturing of mRNA vaccines similar to the leading shots used to inoculate people against COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the $199.16 million will go to Resilience Biotechnologies of the United States, which operates a plant in Mississauga and has plans to expand to manufacture mRNA-based vaccines over the next three years as part of a $402 million project.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines use a new technique to teach the body’s cells how to develop an immune response against a given pathogen.

Instead of delivering a weakened fragment of the pathogen into the body which triggers the immune system, mRNA vaccines teach the body how to develop a spike protein on the base of our cells, signalling the immune system to begin producing antibodies.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19 employ this technology, but neither produces the vaccine inside Canada due to a lack of suitable production capability.

Trudeau says the investment will create or maintain 500 jobs, as well as 50 co-op positions for young people over the next 25 years.

The new plant will be able to produce as many as 640 million mRNA vaccines per year once complete.

Earlier this year, the Ontario and Canadian governments gave Sanofi Pasteur $470 million as part of a wider plan to expand flu and conventional coronavirus vaccine production capacity. 

The opposition Conservatives pointed to the fact this latest investment will not result in any vaccine production that could augment Canada's current vaccination drive against coronavirus.

"Today’s announcement will not help Canadians get a COVID-19 vaccine faster," Michelle Rempel, Conservative shadow minister for health, said in a statement issued to CP24.

"The Trudeau Liberals need to explain why they overlooked existing manufacturers like Providence Therapeutics in Western Canada, who is currently considering leaving Canada due to the decisions of this Liberal government."