Approval for Moderna’s vaccine ‘looks positive’ but a few more documents still needed

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    Doctor or lab technician holding vaccine of new coronavirus

    Ottawa: The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says things are on track for her department to approve a second vaccine for COVID-19 very soon.

    Dr. Supriya Sharma says things “look positive” for the vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Moderna but there are still some outstanding manufacturing documents needed before the decision can be made.

    Ongoing reviews of two more vaccines are less certain, with AstraZeneca’s potentially needing more study before Health Canada is ready to make a decision, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine candidate’s review still in the very early stages.

    Health Canada approved the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech Dec. 9, and the first doses began arriving in Canada Sunday.

    Health care workers in Toronto and long-term care residents in Montreal and Quebec City were the first to receive the vaccine Monday morning.

    Long-term care workers from an Ottawa care home will be next, as that city rolls out its vaccination program this morning.

    Health workers in Manitoba and Alberta are set to follow Wednesday and most other provinces intend to start vaccinating priority groups by the weekend.

    The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has also been approved in several other countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to meet Dec. 17 to discuss Moderna’s application. Health Canada has been reviewing Moderna’s vaccine since October, and Sharma said the final clinical data was provided from the company Friday.

    She said the review team spent the weekend poring over those documents, and now all that is left is data on the manufacturing plants. Those documents are expected by week’s end and then she’ll know better when the Moderna decision can be issued.

    “It does look promising and it does look positive,” said Sharma.

    By Mia Rabson

    The Canadian Press