---Health Canada approves first COVID-19 vaccine
The Federal government approved the country’s first COVID-19 vaccine on December 9, which should be available sometime this week. Introducing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Health Canada announced that the government has purchased 20 million doses of the vaccine and expects to receive around 249,000 doses by the end of the month.
Health Canada stressed that the vaccine’s approval required “very robust” scientific evidence showing that it is effective and without devastating side effects. It declared that the vaccine is safe and effective for people aged 16 and older, including seniors. Noting that the vaccine was 95 per cent effective during its initial clinical trials, it stated that the virus is “highly effective” for all ages, genders, and ethnicities. For the highest level of immunity, it recommended taking two doses, 21 days apart. But until more information is available, the vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women and children.
The only downsides were said to include mild or moderate side-effects similar to those of regular flu shots, particularly feverish symptoms, fatigue, and chills. Although rare, it stated that a serious side-effect may include an allergic reaction. But the data reviewed showed no major safety concerns. The government said it is also rigourously analyzing three other vaccine candidates and is expecting to receive more submissions.
According to Health Canada, experts with the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force have been preparing the vaccine for months – ensuring that it will be safe and effective – working alongside global manufacturers. Canada also collaborated with international regulators to provide an antidote of the highest standard, and will continue working with Public Health Agency Canada to oversee the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety levels. On November 27, the federal government appointed Major General Dany Fortin to spearhead the country’s vaccine distribution logistics.
The feds intend on working with the country’s provinces and territories to determine how the vaccine will be distributed in their respective locations and which people will be prioritized, once approved. The government also pre-ordered millions more doses from the most promising candidates – 429 million doses from seven different manufacturers.
---Quebec vaccine plan
The Quebec government stated that the province’s vaccines will be accessible for free to those who want them, as soon as they’re available, and that the Quebec Immunization Program will lead the distribution. They will not be available on the private market. Noting that more vaccines will gradually become more available, the first round of vaccinations will prioritize seniors and people with chronic diseases, who are most at risk of dying from COVID-19.
Parliamentary Secretary of Science and Pontiac MP Will Amos emphasized the positivity and significance of the announcement. “This is big news,” Amos said, noting that Canada is the third country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine. “This is a major achievement and a critical milestone in our fight against COVID-19.”
“At a logistics level, at a regulatory level, we are dealing with the most significant, complex public health initiative in Canadian history,” he added. “Bar none. We are talking about immunizing over 30 million people with a vaccine that was researched, developed, and reviewed to be safe and effective in the space of a year.” Highlighting the amount of time, work ethic, and levels of expertise behind the development, analysis and approval of the vaccine, Amos was confident that it is in the best interest of the population. “Just because Pfizer said it’s safe, that’s not enough,” Amos said. “Health Canada reviews independently.”
Understanding that some people don’t want to get vaccinated or can’t for health reasons, the government will not be forcing anyone to get vaccinated, Amos said, adding that people are encouraged to cooperate. The federal government projects that the majority of Canadians will be vaccinated by September of 2021. “Canadians can have confidence that 2021 is going to be a good year,” Amos said.
With positive times on the horizon, Amos stressed the importance of remaining vigilant regarding COVID-19 until the pandemic is over. In the coming weeks, the feds plan to publish technical information about the different authorized vaccines, featuring the scientific rationale and data behind decisions, and the results from clinical trials.
More information about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and others in Canada is available via the following link - https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/. The data will be updated as more information becomes available.