Canada’s national health agency, Health Canada, announced Wednesday it has approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, and Canadians will start receiving it as early as next week.
In a statement, Health Canada said that it completed a full independent review of the data on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, after receiving the company’s submission October 9. In its statement, the agency said, “Canadians can feel confident that the review process was rigorous and that we have strong monitoring systems in place.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive at 14 Canadian distribution centers next week, with more than 200,000 doses due before the end of the year.
Canada has ordered a total of 6 million doses from Pfizer. Canada becomes the third nation, after Britain and Bahrain, to approve the drug for use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will consider the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use Thursday.
One day after Britain became the first Western nation to begin mass COVID-19 vaccinations, the United Arab Emirates said a Chinese-made vaccine has proven to be 86% effective in preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease.
The Emirates’ health ministry announced the news Wednesday about the vaccine developed by China’s state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm. The Gulf Arab state participated in a late-stage clinical trial launched by Sinopharm in September involving 31,000 volunteers across 125 nations. The UAE had also granted emergency use approval for the Sinopharm vaccine back in September for health care workers deemed most at risk of infection.
The ministry says the vaccine had no serious safety concerns, but the statement did not include any detailed data derived from the study, such as how many volunteers were given the vaccine or a placebo, or if it produced any kind of side effects.
In spite of this omission, the health authority says the vaccine’s success paves the way for mass inoculations and a reopening of its economy.
The Canadian, British and UAE announcements are the latest positive news about the global effort to develop and distribute a safe and effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus, which has killed 1.5 million people worldwide out of more than 68.2 million total infections.