Health Canada approves Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine
Canada’s public health agency licensed Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine, making it the fourth shot authorized in a country struggling to keep up with its Group of Seven peers on inoculations.
The approval, first reported by Canadian Broadcasting Corp., was announced at a briefing by health officials in Ottawa Friday morning.
Canada has an agreement to purchase 38 million shots from the New Jersey-based company. Unlike the three others approved, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires only a single dose, which could help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau achieve his target of vaccinating every Canadian that wants one by September.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in an interview Thursday it was “highly likely” that timeline will accelerate.
But she cautioned: “I am loathe to simply throw caution to the wind and proclaim a new date without ensuring that our delivery schedules are firm and we will receive vaccines.”
Johnson & Johnson expects to deliver 10 million doses to Canada by the end of the third quarter, the company said in a statement.
Trudeau, Anand and other government officials are scheduled to speak to reporters at midday.
The government has faced criticism over the slow pace of vaccinations. The country has administered just 5.7 doses per 100 people, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, while the U.S. and U.K. have given 24.9 and 32.9 doses for each 100 of their citizens, respectively.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine was the first to be approved in Canada on Dec. 9 and health authorities began vaccinating healthcare workers and other vulnerable urban populations the following week. Moderna Inc.’s vaccine was licensed two weeks later on Dec. 23, which expanded the country’s inoculation drive to rural and northern regions due to easier transportation requirements. AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine was authorized on Feb 26.
More than 22,000 people have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Government officials have attributed the slow pace, in part, to Canada’s expansive geography, the temperature requirements of the Pfizer shot and a healthcare system that leaves it to each province to organize vaccinations. But temporary shipment cuts around the end of January put Trudeau in an uncomfortable spot, as critics questioned the strength of Canada’s contracts and its ability to sway manufacturers.