OTTAWA — Canada will finally get a much-needed boost to the national vaccine supply, after Health Canada approved the long-awaited AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine for distribution Feb. 26. Additionally, it approved a different version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, CoviShield, developed by the Serum Institute of India and sponsored by Mississauga-based Verity Pharmaceuticals.
The federal government expects to receive 24 million doses of the new vaccines between April and September, which will be enough to fully immunize twelve million Canadians. 500,000 doses of the CoviShield will arrive by the end of March.
“We know have a third safe and effective vaccine, independently approved by health experts in Canada. This is very encouraging news. It means more people vaccinated and sooner.” PM Trudeau said in a press release delivered today on Parliament Hill. “With the vaccine now approved in Canada, our first shipment of half a million doses will arrive within weeks.”
Health experts have made much of the AstraZeneca vaccines low-cost and easy storage. As opposed to the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which has to be stored at temperatures between -80ºC and -60ºC, the AstraZeneca only requires a storage temperature between 2ºC and 8ºC. This will make it the ideal vaccine for rural communities in Eastern Ontario.
Canada’s OK for the AstraZeneca jab follows about 50 other countries that have already done so. The UK approved it in December. Meanwhile, the U.S. has yet to follow suit.