Health Canada approves AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

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      Health Canada announced today (February 26) that it has approved another COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada.

      Federal regulators have approved the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca for use in people 18 or older.

      Health Canada, which began assessing the vaccine from the pharmaceutical company and Oxford University last fall, announced the approval today (February 26).

      The vaccine’s efficacy is estimated to be 62 percent, Health Canada said in its decision.

      “Overall, there are no important safety concerns and the vaccine was well tolerated by participants,” it added.

      There have been concerns in other countries around this vaccine’s efficacy in people age 65 and older.

      The vaccine is a two-dose vaccine. The second is given four to 12 weeks after first. Efficacy increases with longer dosing intervals, studies have shown.

      Canada has pre-ordered over 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which are expected to arrive between April and September. 

      Health Canada also announced today that it approved Covishield, the version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine produced in India by the Serum Institute of India.

      Verity Pharmaceuticals in sponsoring the use of the vaccine in Canada.

      “The results of this evaluation determined that the two products were sufficiently similar that the efficacy, immunogenicity and safety of Covishield could be inferred from the non-clinical and clinical studies from the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Health Canada said in its regulatory approval.

      To date, Health Canada has authorized four COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.