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Feds study data suggesting Pfizer vaccine may be almost as good after one dose as two

Last Updated Feb 18, 2021 at 10:28 am EST

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo responds to a question during a news conference, Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Canada’s deputy chief public health officer says federal and provincial health experts are looking at evidence that one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19 may be almost as good as giving two.

Dr. Howard Njoo says data presented by two Canadian doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine this week are compelling.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Dr. Gaston De Serres from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec say data in the United States suggests the Pfizer vaccine was 92 per cent effective against COVID-19 two weeks after just one dose.

Original data suggested one dose gave about 52 per cent protection and two doses gave 94.5 per cent protection, but the doctors say that was measured from the moment the vaccine was given, rather than waiting two weeks to let the immune system gear up.

The doctors suggest with vaccine doses in scarce supply, more of the most vulnerable could be protected if we delay second doses for now.

Njoo says the doctors presented their evidence to a committee of federal and provincial public health officers and there is a live discussion underway about the matter.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 18, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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