Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate could be approved in Canada next month, the says the Chef Medical Adviser at Health Canada.
Dr. Supriya Sharma said Thursday that Canada has a “similar timeline” with the United States and Europe in approving the vaccine that is being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet on December 10 to consider whether to approve the use of Pfizer’s vaccine.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo also said on Thursday that Canada is in a good position to provide access to coronavirus vaccines to “every Canadian who wants one” by 2021, but many will have to wait after the first supply comes out.
Ms. Sharma and Mr. Njoo made the statements in the first of a new round of weekly press conferences that will outline the government’s vaccination roll-out plans.
Mr. Njoo said Canada is in a strong position to be ready to distribute vaccines as they become available.
Initial rollout will focus on the three million Canadians prioritized for vaccination – that is, three core groups: those at highest risk of COVID-19 infection, those at high risk of transmission to those most vulnerable people and essential workers
“As things stand now, we expect certain vaccines to become available in early 2021. However, it’s important to note that the initial supply of these vaccines will be limited … When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
The Government of Canada has contracts with seven of the top vaccine candidate providers, with five of them currently in Phase 3 clinical trials with promising potential from those tests.
However, the specifics of a rollout schedule remain unclear and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged earlier in the week that Canadians will receive the vaccine after citizens of countries like the U.S. and the U.K., where some of the leading vaccine candidates manufacture their supplies.
Mr. Njoo also noted that none of the top vaccine candidates have a manufacturing facility in Canada, a challenge that is difficult to overcome quickly, as many manufacturers rely on new technology that has never been used before. Previous uses: exploiting viral mRNA to help the immune system fight disease.
However, the government predicts initial supply of the vaccine may arrive between January and March 2021 and will reach those at greatest risk.
He emphasized that it is difficult to give definitive details such as when specific vaccines will be delivered and how many Canadians could be vaccinated.
Currently, contracts with vaccine suppliers in quantities of 194 million doses are assigned to Canada, with the option to increase to 414 million doses, officials said.
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