This week, Canada will receive the most COVID-19 vaccine doses so far throughout this pandemic as officials try to address conflicting advice about the AstraZeneca shot.
Canada is getting 945,000 vaccine doses, including the first shipment from AstraZeneca of half a million doses.
This is the largest number of deliveries our country has seen and next week, we’ll see another 900,000 doses arriving, health officials confirmed.
But the news comes as turmoil reigns over who should get the AstraZeneca treatment, which was recently green-lit by the country’s top health advisors.
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Health Canada says anyone over the age of 18 should be OK to receive it, including seniors, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says people 65 and older should not be treated with the vaccine because there is insufficient data for this age group.
There are no concerns that the vaccine is unsafe for use, but the NACI panel said in its recommendations the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are preferred for people 65 years old and above “due to suggested superior efficacy.”
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the NACI recommendations are not final.
“They will update as needed but this is what they recommend at this point in time,” said Tam on Tuesday.
Tam says all vaccines should be administered as soon as they arrive and that it is up to provinces to determine who is best placed to get which vaccines, but all are safe and effective.
On the conflicting advice from NACI and Health Canada on the Astra Zeneca vaccine for people 65+, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the NACI advice should not be considered final. It will be updated as more real world and trial data becomes available. #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) March 2, 2021
At the same Ottawa news conference, Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced 500,000 of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in the country Wednesday.
“Almost a million doses will be delivered into the country this week alone,” said Anand. “Next week, we are set to receive more than 900,000 vaccines being Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.”
Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer that it does not see any problems with exporting those doses.
On the subject of Pfizer and AstraZeneca’s vaccines, data from England’s mass vaccination program showed that both treatments were around 60 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 symptoms in people over 70 after a single dose, according to an analysis released by the country’s public health agency.
In December, the analysis of Pfizer’s first-dose efficacy proved similar to the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which was reported to be 92.1 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The U.S. government has said it wants Americans all vaccinated first before it shares vaccine doses with other countries.
This comes in light of the FDA approving Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine, which President Joe Biden is expected to formalize with an updated distribution plan later today.
With files from The Canadian Press