Health Canada approves third vaccine

·3 min read

Health Canada has approved the third vaccine to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

After a months-long review, Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in Canada.

On February 26, the federal agency approved its use for adults over the age of 18. The department’s regulators concluded the shot has an efficacy rate of 62 percent.

While it is less effective than Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines at preventing infection, the shot is 100 percent effective in preventing the severe outcomes of COVID-19. This includes serious illness, hospitalizations and death, according to the regulators. Additionally, it can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures.

Canada has secured access to 22 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most are expected to arrive between April and September.

“This is very encouraging news. It means more people vaccinated, and sooner,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Because for AstraZeneca, just like we were for Pfizer and Moderna, we are ready to get doses rolling.”

According to Trudeau, with these new doses, Canada now stands to receive about 6.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines by the end of March. That’s enough to vaccinate just over 3.2 million people fully.

Also awaiting approval is a vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which is the only vaccine submitted to Health Canada for review, requiring only one dose.

“The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine. It doesn’t have any booster doses in the regimen that’s been applied for Health Canada approval,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health.

Colby said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to have a bit of a slow start to its immune response. However, it continues to build for a substantial amount of time and the longer you follow the vaccinated population, the better the numbers look.

“I’m really hoping Health Canada approves it soon. Because a single dose product that only needs refrigeration, wow, we can really work with that and get it distributed in a widespread way,” said Colby.

He added that the other vaccines that need freezing are very effective, but they’re cumbersome to transport and deal with.

Despite the other vaccines requiring two doses, Colby said there isn’t an exact answer for how long a person can go between receiving the first and second dose.

So there isn’t an exact answer, we have an agreed-upon regimen for these COVID vaccines, which is up to 45 days, but the Ontario government does not want to go out that far with the elderly population,” said Colby. “All I can say is that there’s a great deal of protection that’s afforded for quite a while with even one dose of any of the vaccines.”

Approval for two more vaccines, made by Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, are still under review.

Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News