A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)

Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Health Canada has approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, adding a third vaccine to the list available in Canada and potentially speeding up the pace at which Canadians can be vaccinated against the virus.

The vaccine can be used immediately on people over 18, guidance in line with authorizations from the United Kingdom, the European Medicine Agency and the World Health Organization, though several other European countries only allow it to be used on people under the age of 65.

Health Canada’s authorization says the clinical trial data was limited for people over 65, but that blood tests showed seniors did produce COVID-19 antibodies from the vaccine.

Also “real-world evidence and post-market experience” in places the vaccine is already in use show “a potential benefit and no safety concerns” with giving the vaccine to seniors.

“While this is good news, we must continue to do our best to follow public health guidelines,” Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said at a news conference Friday.

“We’re all in this together and need to remember to keep wearing a mask, washing our hands and keeping our physical distance.”

Canada is to get 20 million doses of AstraZeneca between April and September.

The vaccine is administered in two doses, anywhere from four and 12 weeks apart, though some data suggests waiting longer between shots is preferable.

Those doses are manufactured in the United States.

Health Canada also authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being made at the Serum Institute of India. The vaccine is the same but was licensed to Serum and is considered to be distinct because of different manufacturing processes.

The federal government has said it is negotiating to get more doses of AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute, in addition to the 20 million coming from the U.S.

Another 1.9 million doses are also expected before the end of June through the international vaccine-sharing program known as COVAX, with the first 500,000 of those potentially arriving before the end of March. Those doses are made in South Korea.

Canada has been criticized for taking doses from COVAX, when it has so many doses coming from private deals with vaccine makers.

AstraZeneca is the most flexible of the vaccines now approved in Canada, able to be shipped and stored in refrigerators, rather than freezers. Open vials can be saved for up to 48 hours in a refrigerator as long as they haven’t been out of the fridge for more than six hours total before being used.

A timeline for deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to be released.

The AstraZeneca vaccine works differently than the other two already in use in Canada.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna use messenger RNA technology, using RNA encoded with the piece of the SARS-CoV-2 virus known as the spike protein. The mRNA trains the body to fight off a COVID-19 infection. Both were about 95 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 in clinical trials and reports in Canada have said even one dose has prevented illness in more than 80 per cent of long-term care residents and health-care workers.

AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine, which takes a cold virus, modifies it so it can’t reproduce itself, and adds the SARs-CoV-2 spike protein. When injected, it too provokes the body to develop infection-fighting antibodies and cells to fight the virus.

Health Canada says it is about 62 per cent effective, with mostly mild and short-lived side-effects like headaches, fatigue and soreness at the injection site.

AstraZeneca will have to submit safety reports.

Health Canada is also reviewing two other vaccines.

Approval of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine will likely not come until early March and Novavax is not expected until April.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gus doing a little hard time before reuniting with his owners. Photo: Trail RCMP
Trail RCMP report cheery conclusions to missing cases

Media brief from the Trail and Greater District RCMP

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement. To comment or learn more, please visit DriveSmartBC.ca.
Drivesmart BC: Rules around bicycle lanes

The lane is often painted green to distinguish it from lanes intended for motor vehicles.

“It’s never too early to start your own Advance Care Plan, but sometimes it can be too late,” says the BC Hospice Palliative Care Association. Photo: Joanna Nix-Walkup on Unsplash
Start the conversation on April 16, National Advance Care Planning Day

Hospice advises to communicate your wishes for peace of mind

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

MP Todd Doherty took to Facebook after his family recently received threats. (Todd Doherty, MP Facebook photo)
‘I don’t run and I don’t hide’: Cariboo MP says RCMP probing threats made against family

Todd Doherty has also notified House of Commons Protective Services

Two men walk past a sign on Main Street in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

Social media, where both information and misinformation can spread like wildfire, has not helped

The music video for “Green and Blue” featured a Willington Care Centre in Burnaby as well as some of the volunteers and employees. (Screenshot/Todd Richard)
‘Green and Blue’: B.C. country musician releases tribute song for front-line workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

An unidentified B.C. man said, in a human rights complaint, that he was refused a contract job after refusing to wear a mask when asked to by an on-site manager. (Unsplash)
Religious B.C. man lodges human rights complaint after fired for refusing to wear a mask

Worker’s claim that ‘to cover up our face infringes on our God-given ability to breathe’ dismissed by B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: B.C. car dealer posts clip of thieves towing a truck right off his lot

Video shows one white truck towing another off Vancouver Island lot

FILE – People hold signs during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver on Saturday, August 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. to request federal exemption for simple drug possession

Announcement comes on 5-year anniversary of B.C.’s first public health emergency

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Most Read