Health Canada set to announce approval of Moderna vaccine for Omicron variant: sources

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Moderna has said it will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Canada. (Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press - image credit)
Moderna has said it will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Canada. (Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press - image credit)

Health Canada will announce Thursday that it has approved an updated COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant, sources tell Radio-Canada and CBC News.

Both Pfizer and rival Moderna filed applications for vaccine approval.

Sources, including one senior government official, told both CBC News and Radio-Canada that the Moderna vaccine is the one receiving approval on Thursday.

The updated vaccine is a combination of two strains, also known as "bivalent" shots. They contain both the original vaccine formulation and protection against the original Omicron variant BA.1, but not the dominant circulating Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized its first update to COVID-19 vaccines that target BA.4 and BA.5; doses could roll out within days.

Canada expecting 12 million doses

Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo will attend a morning technical briefing for media at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday.

That will be followed by a news conference with Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos at 2 p.m. ET.

Moderna announced last week that it will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

A Health Canada spokesperson said on Aug. 22 that a decision on Moderna's vaccine was expected within weeks.

A spokesperson for Pfizer Canada told CBC News Wednesday that its submission to Health Canada for a BA.1-targeted bivalent vaccine is still under review and approval has not yet been granted.