Health Canada approves Johnson and Johnson COVID vaccine

J&J vaccine approved

UPDATE 9:10 a.m.

Provinces are revising their immunization timelines as Health Canada approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today.

Federal authorities say the four vaccines that have been approved in Canada may have different efficacy rates, but the evidence shows that all are safe and can prevent severe illness from COVID-19.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the first one Canada has purchased that requires just a single dose. Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, and has options to buy another 28 million doses.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government says it should be able to get a first dose of COVID-19 vaccines to all eligible people in the province sometime between mid-May and June — months ahead of the original prediction.

Officials say it is because the province has changed strategies and is delaying second doses in order to get more first doses done quickly.

Ontario is also expected to provide an update on its COVID-19 vaccination rollout today.

Ontario's health minister has said increased supply and more time between doses will speed up vaccinations to the general public.

Premier Doug Ford tweeted that the approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will give the province "another tool in our arsenal" on the path toward recovery.

UPDATE 8:28 a.m.

On Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He is joined by federal ministers Patty Hajdu (health), Anita Anand (public services and procurement), and Dominic LeBlanc (intergovernmental affairs), as well as Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer. They discuss Health Canada’s authorization of the use of the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. This is the first single-dose COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Canada, and the fifth COVID-19 vaccine that Health Canada has approved.

ORIGINAL 7:20 a.m.

Health Canada has approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson, saying it has the evidence showing the vaccine is both safe and effective against the novel coronavirus that causes the disease.

It is the fourth vaccine to be approved in Canada and the first and only one Canada has purchased that requires just a single dose.

Canada has pre-purchased 10 million doses, with options to buy another 28 million.

The vaccine can be stored and transported at refrigerated temperatures for at least three months, facilitating distribution across the country, Health Canada noted in a statement Friday morning.

It has been approved for use in adults over the age of 18 and clinical trials are underway to see if it will be safe for children, officials said Friday during a briefing.

Joelle Paquette, the director general for vaccines at Public Services and Procurement Canada, says the 10 million doses are to arrive by September.

It's not expected that any will flow to Canada until at least April.

"At the moment, we are still in discussion with Johnson and Johnson to determine where their doses will be coming from and the delivery schedule," Paquette said Thursday.

Delivery schedules are not confirmed publicly until Health Canada's regulatory review team gives a vaccine its seal of approval.

The United States became the first jurisdiction to approve Johnson and Johnson's vaccine on Feb. 26. It is officially produced by a subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Production problems slowed initial deliveries in the United States. The Americans were to get 10 million doses as soon as the vaccine was approved but there were only four million doses shipped out March 1.

The U.S. expects to get another 16 million doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June.

The European Medicines Agency, which Canada works with on all its COVID-19 vaccine reviews so far, is to make a decision in mid-March.

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