EDMONTON -- A COVID-19 vaccine developed by a University of Alberta professor and his team is scheduled to begin human clinical trials in early 2021.

Two DNA vaccines are currently being worked on by Dr. John Lewis, CEO of Ento’s Pharmaceuticals and a professor of oncology at the U of A, and his team.

The RNA vaccines that are currently showing promising results need to be kept at very cold temperatures during transportation and storage, according to Lewis.

“We’ve seen successful clinical trial evidence come out of Moderna and Pfizer’s RNA vaccines… so Ento’s has been working to develop an vaccine with the same effectiveness as an RNA vaccine with the stability that allows us to manufacture and transport and distribute it to rural areas,” said Lewis.

The three phases of the clinical trials will be held in the first half of 2021 at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax.

The first phase will involve 72 volunteers and focus on young, healthy people and seniors. There is evidence that seniors could need a higher dose of the vaccine for it to be effective, according to Lewis.

“We have evidence that our vaccine may be effective after a single dose and we’ll be looking at that effectiveness after a single dose in the Phase 2 portion.”

Lewis said that if one of his team’s DNA vaccines is approved, a million doses could be made daily in Edmonton. If approved, the vaccine could be ready for distribution in the second half of 2021.