A vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Hartford Hospital, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Jessica Hill

A vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Hartford Hospital, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Jessica Hill

Health Canada approves Moderna COVID vaccine; 1.2M doses of two vaccines expected by Jan. 31

Moderna and Pfizer are the two vaccines approved in Canada

Health Canada has approved the second vaccine against COVID-19. The Moderna vaccine was approved by interim order on Wednesday (Dec. 23) morning.

Canada is expected to get up to 40 million doses of the vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people. The vaccine is considered to be upwards of 90 per cent effective when given in two 0.5 millilitre doses, one month apart.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said up to 168,000 doses are set to arrive by the end of December and two million by the end of March. The first doses of the Moderna vaccine are scheduled arrive in the territories, which forewent Pfizer vaccine doses due to complications with shipping it, on Dec. 28.

At the second of a series of press briefings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Canada had secured an additional 250,000 doses of the previously approved Pfizer vaccine in January. Between both vaccines, the country is now expected to get 1.2 million doses (enough to vaccinate 600,000 people) by the end of January.

According to Health Canada’s authorization details, the vaccine is not approved for immunocompromised people, pregnant women and people under the age of 18. It is also not to be given to people with allergies to any of the ingredients or by those with current COVID-like symptoms. For a full list of ingredients and precautions, visit: https://covid-vaccine.canada.ca/info/moderna-covid-19-vaccine.html.

Sharma said that both Moderna and the previously approved Pfizer vaccine will both be running clinical trials in teenagers and children. Approval for children to take the vaccine will come pending positive results of those trials. Sharma said there is a good chance that vaccines will be approved for children sometime in 2021.

The most common adverse reactions seen in the clinical trials include 92 per cent of people having pain at the injection site, 70 per cent of people feeling fatigue, 65 per cent of people getting a headache, 62 per cent of people getting myalgia (muscle aches and pain) and 46 per cent of people getting chills.

The Moderna shot, like the one approved from Pfizer earlier this month, is an mRNA vaccine designed to teach cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response without using the live COVID-19 virus. That immune response will trigger the body to make antibodies which are meant to protect it from catching the virus. Each 0.5 millilitre dose of the vaccine contains 100 micrograms of mRNA.

Last month, the company announced that the vaccine will remain stable at 2 C to 8 C, the temperature of a standard home or medical refrigerator, for 30 days, instead of the seven days previously expected. After the 30 days, it must be stored at – 20 C, standard freezer temperatures. Compared to the Pfizer vaccine that must be stored in ultra-cold freezers, this is expected to make it easier to administer to long-term care residents and people living in remote communities.

The priority groups for the vaccine are long-term care workers and residents, frontline medical staff, Indigenous peoples and people over the age of 80.


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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