Canada There’s no ‘best’ vaccine, expert says as Canada OKs AstraZeneca shots
Covid: why is the AstraZeneca vaccine shunned by doctors?
© JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP Less than one in two doctors have ordered AstraZeneca vaccines before the launch, on February 25, of vaccination for 50-64 year olds with comorbidity. A real lack of love among caregivers for the British serum that Europe 1 deciphers. It is the vaccine unloved by general practitioners. While France has passed the threshold of 3.3 million injected doses, the serum developed by AstraZeneca should strengthen the device next week.
Vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford have now been approved in Canada. While Canadians may not get a choice about whichvaccine to take, all three offer protection against severe illness, according to experts.
“All of these vaccines are good,” Dr. Bradly Wouters, executive vice-president of science and research at the University Health Network told Global News Friday.
AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — where is Canada at on approvals?
The COVID-19 vaccines are among those still awaiting a green light from Health Canada, but the shots are quickly picking up steam in other parts of the world. With shortfalls in deliveries from vaccines already approved -- Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech -- there is increasing pressure on the health agency to secure more options and get more shots into the arms of Canadians.
Available data shows all these three vaccines have the "ability to impact hospitalization" and offer "protection against severe illness," he said.
Which vaccine is the best?
There's no "best vaccine" option.
Whichever vaccine is available first, "it's going to protect you," Wouters said.
Parts of the world are already facing which-is-best challenges. Astrazeneca's vaccine for instance, was cleared for use in Britain and Europe after data suggested that it was about 70 per cent effective.
Italy's government recently decided to reserve Pfizer and Moderna shots for the elderly and designate the Astrazeneca vaccine for younger, at-risk workers, sparking protests.
Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine
The approval of AstraZeneca's vaccine follows that of Pfizer and Moderna, both of which also require two doses. The AstraZeneca shot is less effective in clinical trials than its rivals' injections — 62 per cent versus high 90s — but offers distinct benefits. Read more: AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines — where is Canada at on approvals? One major advantage is in logistics. The shot can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures, unlike its leading mRNA-based competitors, which require ultra-cold storage.
“Right now, it’s not vaccine against vaccine, it’s vaccine against virus,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recently told The Associated Press.
Wouters reiterated a similar notion.
"In a pandemic, you need fast results," he noted and the "priority is to ensure everyone gets vaccinated" and not "debate over which vaccine is better."
"Each trial involves different people in different places," he said, and while many may be making comparisons between vaccines from the results of different Phase 3 trials, "such comparisons are misleading," he said.
After Pfizer and Moderna, AstraZeneca is the third shot officially authorized in the country.
The two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna shots were found to be about 95 per cent effective against the virus as compared to the AstraZeneca shots that stand at 62 per cent in preventing symptomatic cases.
COVID-19: Ontario reports 1,258 new cases; Health Canada approves AstraZeneca vaccine
What you need to know, at a glance Ontario reported 1,258 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and 28 more deaths. There are 683 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province (down four in the last day), with the number of patients in ICU up by one, for a total of 284. Friday’s case total includes 52 in Ottawa, 11 in Eastern Ontario, 10 in Renfrew County and District, four in Leeds, Grenville & Lanark, and three in Hastings Prince Edward. After falling daily since mid-January, the number of active cases provincewide up for the second day, to a total of 10,294 Ontario’s science advisors say prioritizing COVID-19 vaccinations based on neighbourhood as well as age could prevent thousan
However, Wouters said they will all work "as effectively as possible as long as combined with mask-wearing, handwashing and social distancing."
"We must continue to follow public health guidelines, being cautious until positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths are significantly reduced nationwide," he said.
Following Canada's approval of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine Friday, Procurement Minister Anita Anand cautioned against deliberation over “the sort of good or bad” vaccines.
“If there is a vaccine and it's been authorized by Health Canada, it means that it's met standards,” Anand said during a press conference Friday.
AstraZeneca shots may not seem equal to its opponents at first glance but "these vaccines do have a use,” she said.
“We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that have been over 80, and that has shown a significant drop in hospitalizations, to the tune of 84 per cent,” she said.
“The idea is to have a suite of vaccines that are available. I think Canada is hungry for vaccines, we're putting more on the buffet table to be used."
National panel advises against using Oxford-AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine on seniors
OTTAWA — A national panel of vaccine experts says provinces should not use the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on seniors, opening the door for provinces to start vaccinating younger populations with the newly authorized vaccine much earlier than expected. But similar advice initially issued in Europe began to be revisited Monday, with France overturning its earlier decision against using it on seniors, and Germany in the midst of reconsidering it.
Standards of efficacy
Speaking of the “standards of effectiveness,” Anand said vaccines “should meet at least 50 per cent.”
“If we compare that to the influenza viruses that we authorize every year, if you look back, for example, just to last year, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine against the most common strain was about 64 per cent, across to the next common strain was about 54 per cent,” she said.
As more information becomes available from real-world use, “the efficacy” of the AstraZeneca vaccine might prove to “be much higher,” Anand added.
Considering all the five vaccines that are currently under review, including the Novavax and Johnson & Johnson shots, Anand emphasized that nobody has died so far from “adverse effects” of these vaccines.
"If you look across all the clinical trials of the tens of thousands of people that were involved, the number of cases of people that died from COVID-19 that got vaccine was zero. The number of people that were hospitalized because their COVID-19 disease was so severe was zero. The number of people that died because of an adverse event or an effect of the vaccine was zero,” she said.
The idea is “to prevent” serious illness, hospitalizations and “of course prevent death,” Anand said.
If AstraZeneca isn’t widely recommended for seniors, who should get the vaccine?
While it's understandable to want more precise data, experts say what we know now doesn't mean the shot is unsafe for seniors, nor should it erode what are clear benefits.On Friday, Health Canada approved the vaccine for people over the age of 18. But, days later, the committee that advises the Government of Canada on vaccines seemed to contradict that.
Storage and distribution
Compared to the other vaccines, the AstraZeneca shot is also easier to administer.
The vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C/36 to 46 F) for at least six months and administered within existing health-care settings.
The Moderna and Pfizer options, meanwhile, must be stored at subzero temperatures until they’re ready to be used, at -4 F and -94 F, respectively.
This is "something we need to take into account," Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said during a press conference Friday.
He said the onboarding of the AstraZeneca vaccine is "another tool in our toolbox."
"Following the approval of Health Canada, the efficacy stands at 62 per cent, but we have to look at the entire profile of each vaccine because this vaccine is easier to administer than Pfizer and Moderna, so this is something we need to take into account," he said.
-- With files from The Associated Press
Canada sees 2,812 new COVID-19 cases as country receives first AstraZeneca vaccine shipment .
Health authorities also reported 60 new fatalities related to COVID-19.Health authorities also said 60 more people had died after testing positive for COVID-19.