Ottawa: Canada’s health regulator on Wednesday approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE and said it hopes to start giving the shots next week.
The vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech vaccine already has been authorized for use by the United Kingdom and Bahrain, and officials have said they expect the U.S. authorization within days.
“This a momentous occasion,” said Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada. “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 be authorizing and distributing a vaccine.”
Sharma said Canadians should feel comfortable getting the shot, which was “authorized only after a thorough assessment of the evidence demonstrated that it met Canada’s strict standards for safety, efficacy and quality.”
The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in Canada next week, and plans are already in place to have the shots ready to be administered at 14 delivery sites in major cities across Canada, within one or two days of shipments arriving.
Prioritized groups will be the first to receive the vaccine, given the limited quantities to begin with.
The vaccines will be offered to Canadians free of charge, will not be mandatory, and will eventually be available to all who want to be vaccinated.