After months of review, Health Canada has approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The newly approved vaccine has a efficacy rate of 62 per cent and Canada has secured 22 million doses of the vaccine with some arriving as early as next week.
The remainder is slated to arrive in the second and third quarters of this year.
“Canada will get to more than 6.5 million doses by the end of March,” Prime Minister Trudeau said in a press conference Friday morning.
“It’s good news we have access to several vaccines. Having a vaccine certified by Health Canada is certainly better than not getting vaccinated. We will be getting vaccines to as many Canadians as possible as quickly as possible.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral-vector-based vaccine, meaning the “vector” is not the virus that causes COVID-19 but is rather a vector virus that produces a SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that fights against the virus.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has only been approved for adults 18 and older, as of now.
Its safety and effectiveness in people younger than 18 years of age have not yet been established.
The two-shot vaccine from AstraZeneca vaccine has a lower efficacy rate at 62 per cent than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, but offers operational benefits like low-temperature storage.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines store at -70 and -20 degrees and have an efficacy of 95 per cent and 94.1 per cent, respectively.
Supriya Sharma, Chief Medical Adviser to the Deputy Minister also reiterated that that all of the vaccines are good in fighting against areas that matter most – preventing serious illness, reducing hospitalizations, and curbing the number of deaths.
She cautioned Canadians against comparing efficacy rates of the various vaccine products
The U.K. and the European Union have already started rolling out the AstraZeneca vaccines and the World Health Organization also gave the shot its approval this month, allowing vaccinations to begin in developing countries.
Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot also appears less effective than the mRNA vaccines, at about 66 per cent, but experts say it offers strong protection against the virus and its spread.
Anita Anand, the Minister of Public services and Procurement, said by the third quarter, either July or September, Canada will receive 107.9 million vaccine doses in total.