Health Canada has approved two new COVID-19 vaccines, making it the country’s third and fourth shot authorized for use across the country.
On Friday morning, the federal health agency announced the AstraZeneca vaccine — developed in partnership with Oxford University — and the Serum Institute of India vaccine, India’s version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
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The federal health agency has been reviewing AstraZeneca’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine since October and the Serum Institute of India since January.
“After thorough, independent reviews of the evidence, the Department has determined that these vaccines meet Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements,” says Health Canada.
The health agency says these are the first viral vector-based COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Canada. The vaccines are authorized for use in people over 18 years of age. They are administered as a two-dose regimen and can be kept at refrigerated temperatures (from 2ºC to 8ºC) for at least six months, facilitating distribution across the country.
At a Friday morning briefing, Supriya Sharma, the senior medical advisor for Health Canada, said the government agency conducted “independent and thorough reviews” for the vaccines, all of which meet Health Canada’s requirements. Sharma says the “benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks of not taking a vaccine.”
The second doses of the vaccines are to be taken four to 12 weeks after the first shot, and common side effects include tenderness, headaches, muscle pain, fever, and chills.
Sharma says the “majority” of side effect cases were mild to moderate in terms of severity and was “resolved within a few days.”
Health Canada says the vaccine is 62% effective at preventing cases of COVID-19, overall.
Sharma says Health Canada is working with all manufacturers to assess the AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India vaccine’s “efficacy against the COVID-19 variants.”
“With all vaccines, we will take action if any safety issue is identified,” says Sharma.
More information pertaining to the vaccine rollout will occur at 11:30 am ET on Friday.