Canada is only the second country in the world to have approved Pfizer Inc.'s coronavirus vaccine and may begin immunizing residents as early as next week.
On Wednesday, the country's health agency, Health Canada, posted on its website that it had approved the sting after a two-month independent review of its safety and effectiveness.
"Canadians can rest assured that the review process has been rigorous and that we have strong surveillance systems in place," the government department said in a statement.
"Health Canada and the Canadian Health Department will closely monitor the safety of the vaccine once it is launched and will not hesitate to take action if safety concerns are identified."
Canada is expected to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and four million doses by March 2021.
It comes a day after the UK started giving Pfizer's shock and a day before the US FDA advisory panel meets to decide whether or not to approve it.
In the UK, regulators recommend that people with "significant" food or drug allergies not receive the vaccine after two health care workers have suffered anaphylactic shock.
On Wednesday, Health Canada approved the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE. Pictured: The first patient to be enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 medical trial at the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore receives an injection on May 4th
On Wednesday, Health Canada approved the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE. Pictured: Pfizer headquarters in New York City
In total, the Canadian government has bought 20 million doses of Pfizer's vaccine, which was developed together with its German partner BioNTech SE. with the option to buy another 56 million.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the first vials will arrive in 14 distribution centers across the country next week.
Since two shocks are required for full protection, the 249,000 doses are enough to vaccinate 124,500 people by the end of the year.
Currently, only Canadians over 16 are allowed to receive the vaccine. As soon as Pfizer publishes more data from its ongoing clinical trials, it can be approved for use in children.
Pfizer filed the application with Health Canada on October 9, which means the vaccine was approved exactly two months later.
According to CTV News, frontline health workers, residents and long-term care workers will be the first to receive it.
However, each of the 10 provinces are allowed to make changes to the distribution of the vaccine to suit their situation.
For example, the province of Ontario will be delivering its first vaccines in two cities, Toronto and Peel, where cases are increasing the fastest, CTV News reported.
The news comes just a day after Britain began vaccinating seniors in the city of Coventry.
Unlike Canada, the UK did not conduct an independent review and relied largely on Pfizer's own data before approving the shot.
CASES: Canada currently reports a moving average of nearly 7,000 coronavirus infections per day
DEATH: Canada health officials record a moving average of about 100 deaths from COVID-19 in Canada in seven days
Why the FDA takes so long to approve PFIZER VACCINE
FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said Wednesday that scientists need more time to review the raw data from the Pfizer vaccine study before making a decision.
Before December 10th, when everyone meets to discuss this, this is what happens:
Several teams examine different data sets
Hahn said that normally 150 scientists would test an application. It is unclear whether more were added for the Pfizer application or the Moderna application given the urgency of the situation
You will review data for different components of the vaccine separately, including:
All different groups will then meet on the 10th to discuss their results and when they can jointly recommend approval
The FDA scientists make a recommendation to the advisory board
The advisory board has already started meeting to discuss who would receive the vaccine first if approved.
Ultimately, you also have to decide whether the approval is safe.
In this case, the cans will be shipped from December 15th.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's leading infectious disease expert, criticized the decision, saying the UK should have spent more time studying Pfizer's vaccine thoroughly before it was approved.
He later apologized for the harsh remarks.
The UK's medical and health products regulator is now warning anyone with a history of serious allergic reactions not to receive the vaccine after two Health care workers were in anaphylactic shock on Tuesday.
The two employees are both wearing EpiPens, but no additional information was provided. You should both have a good rest now.
In Pfizer's study, 137 people who were given the vaccine had allergic reactions, as did 111 people who received the placebo.
Due to the statistical insignificance between the two numbers, the researchers determined that the shock was not a potential hazard.
In the US, this could apply to up to 200,000 Americans with allergies.
Four people in Pfizer's study were also diagnosed with Bell's palsy, a type of facial paralysis, after receiving the vaccine.
However, the study's scientists said it wasn't necessarily immunization that caused the condition and was on par with the rate of Bell's palsy in the general population.
British scientists have reassured the public that the vaccine is safe and urged the public not to panic, but there is still a lot of skepticism.
It also begs the question of whether or not it rightly took the US longer to get the vaccine approved.
On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel will meet tomorrow to recommend whether or not to recommend approval of the sting.
Pfizer's ongoing late-stage Phase III study is being conducted in several countries including the United States, Germany, Turkey, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa.
In more than 43,000 participants, the vaccine was found to be 95 percent effective against COVID-19 after the second dose.
Among the 65 year olds and overall, the vaccination was 94.7 percent effective.
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