Health Canada says it still needs more information before it can make a decision on the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine — news that came after the United Kingdom became the first country to authorize the vaccine.
In a statement released Wednesday, Canada’s independent regulator said it’s been reviewing the manufacturer’s vaccine information since Oct. 1 and as new data roll in.
“There is still information and data to be provided by AstraZeneca for review,” says the statement.
“Health Canada cannot provide a definite timeline for the completion of the review at this time.”
As early as Wednesday, the UK announced the vaccine’s approval, with the country’s health minister saying the rollout would begin on January 4.
AstraZeneca vaccine has been expected because of its low cost and ease of use. Unlike other vaccines, it can be stored in the refrigerator rather than in super cold storage facilities.
Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca for the purchase of 20 million doses.
“Health Canada is working hard to give Canadians access to COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible without compromising its safety, efficacy and quality standards,” said the Health Canada statement.
“Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority.”
Health Canada has authorized two vaccines — the messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc.
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