According to a report from the CBC, Health Canada has decided wait for more data before approving – or not approving – the coronavirus vaccine from the Oxford group in partnership with AstraZeneca.
Which separates Canada from the UK where the authorities have just approved this vaccine for immediate use in UK residents.
But Health Canada is arguing that the data from the AstraZeneca trials were – the best word to use here may be “confusing” – since the people who got half-doses in their first go-around seemed to get a better immune response than the people who got two full doses, and it’s correct to say that no one really knows why that’s so and more important, what it means, especially for the most vulnerable age-group, namely seniors over age 75.
So Health Canada is, I think, right to wait a bit longer in order to make more sense of this – for example, is it better to give this vaccine in a half-dose, which would make it much more stretchable to way more people? – before approving this vaccine.
But – and this is a very important “but” – they better not wait a lot longer (something that Health Canada has often been accused of doing with previous drug approvals) because we desperately need to vaccinate more Canadians ASAP, especially the most vulnerable, of course, and this vaccine is much easier to transport and to store than the ones that have been approved for now, and hence, if effective, would be much better at achieving a high degree of vaccine coverage in the community.