What the U.K Pfizer Vaccine Approval Means for Canada

The UK became the first country in the world to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

Following the news that the United Kingdom has approved a COVID-19 vaccine for use, questions are emerging about what the new approvals may mean for other countries looking to secure a vaccine candidate in the race against the novel coronavirus.

Britain gave the green light to the COVID-19 vaccine candidate from U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech on Wednesday. They are expected to start vaccinating in the country within the next few days.

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious disease expert told CTV’s Your Morning show on Wednesday that Britain’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was “very interesting”. He hopes the other vaccine candidates will be approved in Western countries in the coming weeks.

Sharkawy said the approval adds to the “sense of optimism” around a successful coronavirus vaccine.

“If the data has been looked at very carefully by one regulatory body, like the MHRA in the U.K., then certainly the FDA and Health Canada should be able to do the same thing,” Sharkawy said

“I would be surprised if Health Canada did not follow suit with approval very, very soon,” he added.

However, in a statement to CTV News, Pfizer Canada said that “approval in one jurisdiction does not mean approval in another.”

Although the vaccine is approved in the UK, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist, said Pfizer’s vaccine candidate would not be available in Canada any sooner.

Bogoch told CTV News that the regulators were “working at different speeds” and said the UK’s approval doesn’t mean Health Canada should be in a hurry in its own decision.

Bogoch explained that Health Canada is not only looking at data from clinical trials but also looking at the manufacturing process of that vaccine.

Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr. Howard Njoo said on November 26 that while there will be priority on those who get vaccinated, Canada will have enough dose to “provide access to those who want to. vaccination in 2021. “

However, Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist and an assistant professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, said he is concerned that access to vaccines could be limited throughout the next year if there is no plan. deployment appropriately.

Bowman told CTV News Channel on Wednesday that there is “a lot of confusion and ambiguity” as to when provincial health agencies will have the COVID-19 vaccine so that vaccinations can begin.

While admitting that nationwide vaccine administration is “not easy”, he said there is a need for more transparency from government officials on current implementation plans to ensure that Canadians Don’t hesitate to get vaccinated when they can.

The Health Minister said that the evaluation of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine will be completed soon

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Canada’s review of the Pfizer vaccine candidate “is expected to be completed soon” when news emerged Wednesday that the UK had approved the vaccine.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Hajdu said the news from the UK was “encouraging.”

“The news that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has been approved in the UK has been encouraging. Health Canada is reviewing this candidate and is expected to be completed soon,” she said.

“Ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine is safe before it is approved is a priority for Health Canada and when the vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”

A person needs two doses of the vaccine to fight the virus, and they must be given three weeks apart. Pfizer said last month that the final analysis from their clinical trials showed the vaccine was 95 percent effective. They also say it has no serious side effects and protects older adults.

Canada has secured access to a total of 414 million doses of COVID-19 from various sources, of which 76 million are from Pfizer, but only 4 million of them are expected to land in the country. from January to March.

Speaking on Tuesday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada was the fourth country to complete an agreement with Pfizer, after the US, UK and Japan.

Canada’s population is only 38 million. This means that a signed deal will eventually secure enough doses to vaccinate a quarter of the country – with the option to buy enough to vaccinate the rest.

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