(Globanews) Health Canada has completed its review of the clinical data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech and deemed the hotly awaited vaccine safe for use, the regulator announced in a notice on its website on Wednesday.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has a significant impact on public health. There is no vaccine authorized for the prevention of COVID-19 in Canada,” the regulator noted in its decision authorizing the use of the vaccine.
“The availability of a safe and effective vaccine will reduce the spread and severity of COVID-19 disease and reduce its social and economic consequences.”
“The data provided supports favorably the efficacy of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine as well as its safety. The efficacy of the vaccine was established to be approximately 95 per cent, the vaccine was well tolerated by participants and has no important safety concerns.
The approval comes as coronavirus cases surge across the country, and as officials prepare to roll out the first doses to roughly 124,500 Canadians working in front-line health care and long-term care.
The first vaccinations could begin as soon as next week.
In a statement, Pfizer said the regulator’s approval makes Canada the third country in the world to approve the vaccine and that it can start shipping it as soon as it gets the green light that distribution networks are in place.
“Today’s decision from Health Canada is a historic moment in our collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and is a major step towards returning to normalcy in Canada,” said Cole Pinnow, president of Pfizer Canada.
“We commend Health Canada for its careful and thorough assessment of our COVID-19 vaccine and timely action to help protect Canadians.”
Coronavirus infections are surging across the country, with many regions imposing new lockdown measures in a frantic bid to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Nearly 13,000 Canadians have died from the virus, which is highly contagious and whose vast range of symptoms are leaving some survivors with serious lasting effects that continue to puzzle scientists.
Health officials across Canada reported 5,977 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, as the national total of infections soars to more than 430,565.