Johnson & Johnson vaccine approval expected in ‘next few days’: feds

Canadian public health officials say they are confident regulators are on track to approve the Johnson & Johnson one-shot coronavirus vaccine within a matter of days.

Dr. Marc Berthiaume, director of the bureau of medical science at Health Canada, said during a press conference on Thursday that he expects there will be good news on the approval of that vaccine shortly.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine should be available in the next few days,” he said, referring to the vaccine approval — officials said the specifics of any possible deliveries are still being worked out.

“So we should have good news on that in the next few days.”

Earlier in the week, Health Canada’s chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma had said the review of the vaccine candidate was “progressing very well.”

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Sharma said the regulator had been waiting on “a last piece” of manufacturing data from Johnson & Johnson as part of that application review, and received that on Saturday.

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In light of that, she had said a final decision was expected soon.

READ MORE: Canada received ‘last piece’ of manufacturing data for Johnson & Johnson vaccine: Sharma

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine differs from the others approved so far in that it delivers a high level of protection from developing COVID-19 symptoms with a single dose rather than two.

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New data on effectiveness of single COVID-19 vaccine dose – Feb 18, 2021

Canada has a contract in place for one million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be delivered by September.

Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer, said officials are having conversations about whether the approvals could lead to the national vaccination timeline moving more quickly.

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“Yes, certainly we’ve had very good active discussions,” he said when asked whether approval of AstraZeneca and potentially Johnson & Johnson too could see Canadians vaccinated before September.

“If you look at it, the timelines could shift and we would be able to cover a vast majority of the Canadian population in an advanced timeline, or moving it up by several weeks,” he said.

Read more: Most Canadians believe feds will keep promise on vaccinations by September: poll

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading the logistics of the vaccine rollout, said while the timeline could shift, the target they are working towards right now remains September.

“You could anticipate that we could meet that target effectively sooner, but right now we’re planning for September,” he said.

More to come…

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