EDMONTON -- The Alberta government is exploring opportunities to expand vaccine development and manufacturing within the province.

Announced on March 8, the provincial government is soliciting proposals from organizations and companies on how they can help expand vaccine manufacturing capabilities in Alberta through an online form. Applications will remain open until midnight on March 21.

The announcement is part of the provincial’s government plan to develop a Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Sector Strategy to boost the growth of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturing and research in Alberta.

Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s minister for jobs, economy and innovation, said in a press release expanding the vaccine production capability will help in the fight against COVID-19 and contribute to the economic recovery of Alberta.

“The economic recovery of Alberta, Canada and the world depends on achieving mass vaccination against COVID-19,” Schweitzer said. “Our government is exploring potential opportunities in the development and manufacturing of vaccines right here at home.”

Project proposals will be evaluated using criteria including how it will support the public health of Albertans during the pandemic, job creation or economic development activities and if it will have impacts on long-term growth for the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector in the province.

As of March 6, over 290,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Alberta and more than 90,000 Albertans have been fully vaccinated with two doses.

Currently there are four vaccines authorized for use by Health Canada, including the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Albertans are hard-working innovators and problem solvers, and we are ready to see how they propose to continue the fight against COVID-19,” Schweitzer said.