Federal health officials have said that Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use in Canada within a week.
At a press conference on March 4, Dr. Marc Berthiaume, the director of the Bureau of Medical Science at Health Canada, said a decision on the vaccine would be coming in “the next few days.”
“The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going well. It’s progressing,” said Supriya Sharma, a senior medical advisor with Health Canada.
“We’re expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I’d say within the next seven days.”
Joelle Paquette, the director general responsible for vaccine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said the department is “working closely” with Johnson & Johnson on a finalized delivery schedule.
Based on the bilateral agreement Canada has with the company, 10 million doses are expected to be delivered by September. Paquette noted that, if approved, deliveries could begin in the second quarter of 2021.
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On Wednesday, the department authorized a submission from Pfizer to change the storage conditions of its vaccine.
The vials can now be stored or transported at standard freezer temperatures of -25°C to -15°C for up to two weeks.
Previously, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine needed to be kept at ultra-low temperatures of -80°C to -60°C.
The change in storage conditions will provide more flexible transportation and distribution of the vaccine, officials said.
In its decision, Health Canada said the change would provide “more flexible transportation and local re-distribution” of the vaccine doses.
To date, 2,122,469 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada.