Another COVID-19 vaccine candidate has now been submitted for Health Canada approval says Health Minister Patty Hajdu.
The request for vaccine approval is by Janssen Inc., a pharmaceutical subsidiary of U.S.-based multinational Johnson & Johnson and Hajdu says it is a promising development.
Ottawa announced a deal with Janssen on Aug. 31 to secure up to 38 million doses of the vaccine — which requires only one dose to provide immunity, instead of two.
Janssen’s vaccine is a non-replicating viral vector vaccine — based on viral material that has been genetically engineered so it can’t replicate and cause disease.
Johnson & Johnson began Phase 3 clinical trials in September with a huge study that would test the shot in 60,000 volunteers in the United States, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
The trial was put on hold in early October as the company investigated an “unexplained illness” among one of the study’s participants, but was restarted just weeks later after the company reported finding no evidence that the vaccine had caused the volunteer to fall ill.
Health Canada is evaluating three other vaccine candidates as part of what it calls a “rolling review process” that allows companies to submit data from clinical trials even as those trials are still underway.
The regulator must approve a vaccine as safe and effective before it can be administered to Canadians. Health Canada is currently evaluating vaccine candidates from U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, from U.S. biotechnology company Moderna, and from British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
“Canadians can be sure that whatever Canada approves, in terms of vaccines, will only be done when it’s entirely safe to do so,” Hajdu told reporters today. “I say to Canadians: hang on. We can get through this winter together and relief is on the way.”
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