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Approval of new vaccines ‘very encouraging news’: Trudeau

Friday, February 26, 2021 @ 3:02 PM | By Ian Burns

Canada has two new weapons in the fight against COVID-19.

Health Canada has authorized two vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca developed in partnership with Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccines are authorized for use in people over 18 years of age and are administered as a two-dose regimen.

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

At his Feb. 26 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the approval “very encouraging news.” He confirmed Canada has secured two million doses of the Astra-Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine, with the first batch of 500,000 to be delivered “in the coming days.”

“We now have another safe and effective vaccine approved by independent Canadian health experts,” said Trudeau, who has been receiving fire on multiple fronts for the slow rollout of vaccines in Canada as opposed to other countries. “Here is the bottom line — with Pfizer, Moderna and now AstraZeneca, Canada will get to more than six million doses by the end of March and there will be tens of millions more to come between April and June.”

AstraZeneca has licensed the manufacture of its vaccine to the Serum Institute of India. However, studies have shown the AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of about 62.1 per cent and countries like France have restricted its use to people under the age of 65.

 Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand, who has become the government’s point person on the vaccine rollout, said Canada remains “fully on track” to have every person who wants it to be vaccinated by September.

“We have seen a record number of COVID-19 vaccines coming into this country over the past week and this will continue over the next weeks and months,” she said. “We have continually said when a vaccine is ready Canada will be ready, and we will continue to leave no stone unturned to bring as many vaccines into Canada as quickly as possible.”

The AstraZeneca and India products are viral vector-based vaccines, which use a harmless modified version of a different virus (the vector) to deliver instructions to a person’s cells, which then begin to make proteins from the virus that causes COVID-19 which then prompts the body to develop an immune response. They can be kept at refrigerated temperatures from two to eight degrees Celsius, as opposed to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines which need to be stored at sub-zero temperatures.

More information about the AstraZeneca vaccine can be found here.

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