Health Canada approves J&J vaccine against COVID-19 as Pfizer bumps deliveries
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said Canada will get 1.5 million more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine delivered this month.
The addition of another COVID-19 vaccine to Canada’s arsenal and accelerated deliveries for another had government officials taking an optimistic tone on Mar. 5 about the path of the pandemic in Canada.
Health Canada announced the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, saying regulators have evidence showing the vaccine is both safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said Canada will get 1.5 million more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine delivered this month, and another two million doses that were set to arrive in the summer will now come in April and May.
“We are expecting far more doses by September than there are Canadians, even given that we’re only talking about doses from four different approved companies right now,” Trudeau said on Mar. 5.
“We have reasons to be optimistic.”
The approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could markedly change the pace of vaccinations in Canada. It only requires a single dose and can be stored and transported at refrigerated temperatures for at least three months, facilitating distribution across the country.
There is no timeline yet for its delivery, with those details still being hammered out, federal procurement minister Anita Anand said.
Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, developed by subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Those are to be delivered by the end of September. Canada has options to buy another 28 million doses.
Health Canada has now approved four distinct COVID-19 vaccines, with the others being from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Oxford-AstaZeneca. The regulator includes a fifth on its list of authorized shots: Covishield, which is a separate brand name for doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India.
The J&J vaccine has been approved for use in adults and clinical trials are underway to see if it will be safe for children, Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said on Mar. 5.
The news from Pfizer that it will speed up deliveries comes after a marked delay in the national vaccination effort in January and February, when the company decided to upgrade production lines at a major factory in Belgium.