Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada “is well prepared” for the coronavirus vaccine – but she warned that the rollout of vaccinations for all citizens will take “a while”.
“The federal government has contracts to buy the most successful candidate vaccines. Canada has a vaccine group that includes all vaccines with positive results and others we believe will be successful. That’s a positive thing,” said Freeland.
However, she noted that the details regarding the distribution of the vaccine are still being handed over to the provinces and territories.
Speaking last week, Canada’s Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr. Howard Njoo said he expects the majority of Canadians to be vaccinated by the end of next year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said he hopes Canadians will begin to see the other side of the pandemic in the spring when vaccines begin to roll out.
AstraZeneca says late-stage testing for the COVID-19 vaccine is ‘highly effective’ in preventing disease
On Monday, AstraZeneca said that late-stage trials showed their COVID-19 vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University was up to 90% effective in preventing coronavirus. This is one of several vaccines that Canada has pre-ordered.
Results are based on the interim analysis of UK and Brazilian trials. AstraZeneca said no hospitalizations or serious cases have been reported among those receiving the vaccine.
The test looked at two different dosing regimens. Half a dose of a vaccine given first, followed by a full dose at least a month apart, was 90% effective. A second treatment using two full doses one month apart is 62% effective. The combined results show an average efficiency rate of 70%.
“These findings show we have an effective vaccine that can save lives,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, lead investigator of the trial. “Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens maybe around 90 percent effective.”
Pfizer and Moderna reported their vaccine were about 95% effective for preventing disease.
But the AstraZeneca vaccine is cheaper, easier to make, and can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures between 2 C and 8 C, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. Whereas Pfizer and Moderna vaccines must be stored at freezer temperature.
In the case of Pfizer, the drug must be kept at an extremely cold temperature of about – 70 C.
All three of these vaccines must be approved by regulators before they are widely distributed.
AstraZeneca said it would immediately get the vaccine for early approval if possible and would put the World Health Organization on an emergency use list so that it could be made available in low-income countries.
The vaccine uses a weakened version of the common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spiny protein that causes COVID-19. After the vaccination, the prickly protein prepares the immune system to attack the virus if it then infects the body.
AstraZeneca has increased its production capacity to be able to deliver hundreds of millions of doses starting in January, Pascal CEO Soriot said.
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