OTTAWA: Canada on Friday authorized a fourth Covid-19 vaccine, adding Johnson & Johnson to its approved list alongside AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots. Produced by the US pharmaceutical giant’s subsidiary Janssen, it is the first single-dose Covid-19 vaccine to be authorized in this country, and has been cleared for use by people over 18 years of age.
The United States greenlit its use February 27 while the European Medicines Agency is set to decide whether or not to permit its use in the European Union next week.
At the same time, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Pfizer was moving up deliveries of its vaccine that will increase from six million to eight million the total number of doses delivered in March.
“To people watching at home right now who are looking forward to getting their shot, your turn is coming. Millions of doses are on the way. Deliveries have been ramping up and they’ll ramp up even more in April,” he told a news conference.
Ottawa has ordered up to 38 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which can be stored at refrigerated temperatures from two to eight degrees Celsius (35-46 Fahrenheit), making distribution easier than some others. While the J&J vaccine is not as protective as Moderna and Pfizer, the comparisons are not quite like-for-like, because those trials reported results before newer, more transmissible mutations of the virus became dominant in some parts of the world.
“We concluded that there was strong evidence that showed that the benefits of this vaccine outweigh the potential risk,” Health Canada chief medical officer Supriya Sharma said, adding that its evaluation will continue as it is rolled out.