Canada’s health regulator on Wednesday approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the third country to authorize the use of the shot – as the green-lighting of the vaccine in the US is still at least another day away.
Health Canada announced that the vaccine made by the US drugmaker in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech has received authorization and officials say they hope to roll out the shots by next week.
“This a momentous occasion,” said Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical advisor at Health Canada, adding, “The geek in me is amazed. No one would have thought, even when we looked back at the first discovery of the virus, that less than a year later we would authorizing and distributing a vaccine.”
Sharma explained that the vaccine “was only authorized only after a thorough assessment of the evidence demonstrated that it met Canada’s strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a tweet called the authorization “good news,” but said “it doesn’t mean we can let our guards down.”
COVID-19 has so far killed more than 12,900 people and sickened more than 436,300 in Canada.
The country is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and officials expect to start administering the shots next week after they are shipped from Belgium via UPS on Friday.
Trudeau said 30,000 doses are expected to arrive in Canada as early as Monday.
Health Canada said the vaccine is only for use in people ages 16 and older, but noted that Pfizer and BioNTech are running additional clinical trials on children of all age groups and that could change.
The drugmakers said it will supply a minimum of 20 million doses to Canada through 2021 and as many as 76 million.
Pfizer’s vaccine has also already been green-lit for use by the United Kingdom and the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain.
An 81-year-old man named William Shakespeare and a 91-year-old woman Margaret Keenan were among the first to receive the vaccine in the UK on Tuesday.
President Trump said Tuesday during a White House event that the US Food and Drug Administration was “just days away” from approving the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.
FDA scientists this week confirmed Pfizer and BioNTech’s findings that the vaccine is 95 percent effective after two doses.
With Post wires