The federal government has greenlit distribution of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine after Health Canada’s approval of the vaccine on Wednesday.
This makes Canada the third country in the world, after the United Kingdom and Bahrain, to approve the distribution of the vaccine.
The federal government has purchased 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (tozinameran) with the option to buy 56 million more. Canada is set to receive 249,000 doses this month and four million by March 2021.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that the first rollouts of the vaccines be earmarked primarily for vulnerable populations, including residents in long-term care homes, adults 80 years of age or older, and health care staff. (Learn more about Ontario’s vaccine distribution plans here).
The approval comes after a two-month review of Pfizer-BioNTech’s clinical trial data collected from over 43,000 participants. The vaccine was found to be 94.7 per cent effective among subjects over the age of 65, (with no prior COVID-19 infections) and has not produced important safety concerns among participants. However, it is uncertain if the virus immunity will be long-term, but Health Canada plans to continue to monitor effectiveness and any effects that may follow immunization.
Canada has ordered approximately 418 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from seven companies. In addition to Pfizer-BioNTech, Health Canada is also reviewing vaccines from companies like Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Janssen.