Oxford-AstraZeneca Shot Becomes Canada’s Third Approved Vaccine

Canadian public health authorities have approved the coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca Plc, a third option for a nation that’s secured more doses per person than any other in the world.

Health Canada released its regulatory decision summary on its website Friday morning. Canada has an agreement to purchase 20 million doses of the vaccine from the London-based company, as well as a further 2 million through Verity Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. and the Serum Institute of India.

The first half million of the doses from India will arrive in the coming weeks. The 20 million AstraZeneca vaccines are expected to arrive from the U.S. by the end of June.

“So far all of our indications are that those vaccine doses are going to be arriving in Canada as scheduled during second quarter,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a midday news conference in Ottawa.

Despite its world-leading portfolio, Canada’s inoculation effort got off to a relatively slow start. It has administered 1.68 million shots as of Thursday, covering just 4.5% of its population, trailing all other Group of Seven countries except Japan. The U.K. and U.S. have vaccinated 29% and 20.6% of their citizens, respectively.

The U.K. was the first country to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot, which it began administering Jan. 4. It has yet to be authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Economists are warning the sluggish pace could crimp Canada’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. Concerns about the vaccine rollout are also denting Trudeau’s support in opinion polls as he weighs whether to trigger an election this year.

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine was the first to be licensed in Canada on Dec. 9. Initial doses were given the following week to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care homes in urban centers. Moderna Inc.’s vaccine was approved Dec. 23, allowing public health authorities to expand the vaccine campaign to northern and rural areas due to easier transportation requirements.

Trudeau also said Friday the government will receive a total 6.5 million doses of the three approved vaccines by the end of March.

Canada is currently averaging more than 3,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, with nearly 22,000 deaths across the country since the pandemic began in March 2020.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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