Health Canada will not alter AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recommendations after U.S. concerns

Elisabetta Bianchini
·2 min read

While the U.S. warns the public about "outdated information" on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, Health Canada is not changing its recommendations for the vaccine at this point.

A press release from AstraZeneca released Monday states that a U.S. study of more than 32,000 participants showed that the vaccine has an efficacy of 79 per cent at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 per cent efficacy at preventing severe disease and hospitalization.

The National Institutes of Health then issued a statement that the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) expressed concern about the data from that trial.

"The DSMB expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data," the statement reads. "We urge the company to work with the DSMB to review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible."

Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser with Health Canada, said that the press release including information from an earlier data log is "not uncommon" and AstraZeneca will be doing a "more complete analysis."

"I think the bottom line is there’s some information that’s there, it’s not the complete data package," Dr. Sharma said. "Health Canada will look at the complete data package when we get that."

She said the complete information is expected sometime in April.

"Based on the findings that we’ve seen, and even if there are some differences in terms of the final data points, really the bottom line is that it doesn't change the recommendations with respect to the AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada at this point in time," Dr. Sharma added.

Although reccomendations for the admistration of this COVID-19 vaccine is not changing in Canada, Dr. Sharma did identify that Health Canada is looking to add a warning about the reported blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine for Canadians.

This comes after the European Medicines Agency added a warning last week, indicating that a small number of people developed blood clots in the brain after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.