Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine becomes 4th to receive Health Canada approval

Henrietta Strickland
March 5, 2021

"It's progressing", said Supriya Sharma, a senior medical advisor with Health Canada.

Health Canada says it's going to fast-track approvals for any modifications made to already approved COVID-19 vaccines in order to strengthen them against variants of concern.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remained steadfast that all Canadians who want a COVID-19 vaccine will be able to get one by the fall. The U.S.is now in sixth place, with 15.2% of the population having received at least one dose as of 1 March.

But Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said the manufacturers structured their clinical trials that way to get the vaccines to market as quickly as possible, but said research in British Columbia, Quebec, Israel and the United Kingdom has shown that first doses are highly effective.

The current protocol is an interval of three to four weeks between doses for the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says numerous Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses expected to arrive in the province will go to the pharmacies for the pilot program.

"Effectiveness against variants of concern will also be monitored closely, and recommendations may need to be revised", it said, adding there is now no evidence that a longer interval will affect the emergence of the variants.

The committee's recommendation came hours after the Atlantic coast province of Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after health officials in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia announced they were doing so.

The COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world since early 2020, causing more than 100 million confirmed cases and more than 2.5 million deaths worldwide to date, 500,000 of which happened in the U.S. Since the first COVID-19 vaccines were authorized in December 2020, many countries have initiated large nationwide vaccination campaigns. Sixty-one percent of Ontarians also expressed dissatisfaction with the federal government's performance.

On Wednesday, the Ontario government said it will give the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot to residents aged 60 to 64.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones was asked who in Ontario will receive the new AstraZeneca vaccine that has a shelf life of less than a month.

Manitoba said it plans to target those between the ages of 50 and 64 who have high-risk underlying conditions.

While it is accurate to say that the US administered more doses than any other country, this number is somewhat misleading if population size isn't taken into account.

Other provinces, including Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are still mulling over the issue.

Previously, Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine needed to be kept at ultra-low temperatures of -80°C to -60°C. The change should allow for wider distribution of the vaccines.

The federal wage subsidy, rent support and lockdown programs will carry on with the same level of aid, the government said. When measured as a proportion of population, 15% of the USA population has received at least one vaccine dose, as compared to 30% of the population in the United Kingdom and 55% of the population in Israel.

In addition to Wednesday's shipment of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses, Canada is also scheduled to receive 444,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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