The Canadian press
Canada’s difficult COVID-19 vaccination effort showed several positive signs on Friday. Further evidence that a dose of a leading vaccine could be almost as good as two, the news that Pfizer’s vaccine may not need to be kept exceedingly cold, and a major herd immunity milestone passed.
On Friday morning, the millionth Canadian received a first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. The marker came weeks later than expected after almost a month of shrunk deliveries from Pfizer and Moderna.
Despite the slower than expected start, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, “we can be very optimistic” about the performance of the vaccines so far.
While both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna say their vaccines require two doses three or four weeks apart to be fully effective, there’s growing evidence that the first dose on its own might be almost as good. p>
Quebec reported Thursday that the vaccines administered there were 80 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 two weeks after a single dose for healthcare workers and three weeks after a single dose for elderly long-term care residents.
And a study in the medical journal The Lancet published Thursday showed that after two to four weeks, a single dose was 85 percent effective in vaccinating symptomatic COVID-19 infections in more than 7,000 in December and January in Israel Prevent healthcare workers.
Health Canada and provincial public health officials are currently actively reviewing the data, while discussion continues on whether single doses should be offered to more people and second doses delayed until most people at high risk have received their first >
Pfizer and BioNTech also now say their vaccine can be stored in a standard freezer between -15 ° C and -25 ° C for up to two weeks, potentially making it easier to use the vaccine in more remote locations.
This vaccine is currently said to be stored at extremely low temperatures between -60 ° C and -80 ° C and can then be thawed in the refrigerator for five days before being mixed with saline for injection.
The requirement has limited the places Pfizer’s vaccine is used in Canada. The Northern Territories and Northern Northern Nations were limited to the Moderna product, which is already shipped and stored in regular freezers.
Pfizer and BioNTech filed Friday with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to amend this requirement to allow for up to two weeks of regular freeze storage before thawing in the refrigerator after tests showed the vaccine was not broken down. p>
Canada’s vaccine shipments exploded this week and 403,650 doses came from Pfizer. Canada expects Pfizer and Moderna to receive more than four million more doses in the next six weeks.
This news has enabled several provinces to expand their vaccination offerings beyond the first priority groups in nursing homes and health workers. At least three provinces – Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Alberta – announced details of vaccinating seniors in the community.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer for health, said the first of 10 clinics in the community will open next week to provide vaccinations for people over 80.
Retired General Rick Hillier, who led the vaccination effort in Ontario, said Canada’s most populous province could begin vaccinating people over the age of 80 from mid-March.
And Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney said people in his province who are at least 75 years old will be able to schedule vaccination appointments next week. Kenney said that second doses of vaccines were offered to every eligible resident of the provincial nursing homes.
The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, views a copy of the epidemiology and modeling presentation during a press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, June 29, 2020, in the West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Justin Tang)
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