Canada's Vaccine Panel Recommends 4 Months Between COVID Doses

Canada approves J&J's COVID-19 vaccine says benefits outweigh risks

Canada approves J&J's COVID-19 vaccine says benefits outweigh risks

Health Canada has become the first major regulator to approve four different vaccines.

"Health Canada will continue to monitor the safety of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine once it is in use, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the provinces and territories and the manufacturer", says the federal health agency.

At least three variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 are circulating in Canada and are believed to spread more easily and possibly cause more serious illness.

Health Canada has now approved a fourth vaccine against COVID-19, the Janssen shot made by USA pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson.

Clinical trials showed Johnson & Johnson had around an overall 72% efficacy in the United States, compared to the around 95% rates seen in trials from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The vaccine effectiveness of the first dose will be monitored closely and the decision to delay the second dose will be continuously assessed based on surveillance and effectiveness data and post-implementation study designs, the panel wrote.

The committee's recommendation came hours after the Atlantic coast province of Newfoundland and Labrador said it will extend the interval between the first and second doses to four months, and days after health officials in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia announced they were doing so.

This also comes after it was recommended that seniors 65 and older do not get the AstraZeneca vaccine, due to concerns around effectiveness.

Production problems slowed initial deliveries in the United States.

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The federal government's plan to have doses administered to all Canadians who want one by the end of September didn't factor in the arrival of new vaccines such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, Trudeau said.

Some Catholic faith leaders are suggesting their congregations opt for the Modera or Pfizer vaccines over the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing controversial ingredients used in its production.

And Chagla stressed that ultimately, this one-dose option could offer a "real solution" that helps countries like Canada tackle this year-long pandemic and alleviate the current burden on the health-care system from a virus that's still widespread.

Sharma said Canada had approved a clinical trial for the J&J vaccine in children aged between 12 and 17. "Those who, however, for reasons of conscience, refuse vaccines produced with cell lines from aborted fetuses, must do their utmost to avoid, by other prophylactic means and appropriate behavior, becoming vehicles for the transmission of the infectious agent", he said.

Pope Francis received his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine in January.

New guidelines for shipping and storing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were also released Wednesday, with Health Canada saying the drug can be transported and kept at standard freezer temperatures for up to two weeks.

As the Associated Press explained, Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is made using a harmless cold virus, called an adenovirus, the same technology it used to produce a successful Ebola vaccine. As of Wednesday, there were 103 confirmed cases of it in Canada.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunisation said extending the dose interval to four months would allow as many as 80% of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose by the end of June simply with the expected supply of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

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