Health Canada approves Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

Health Canada has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in this country, clearing the way for thousands of doses to arrive by month’s end.

The federal department announced the approval on Wednesday after completing a review of the company’s clinical trial data.

The Moderna vaccine was found to be 94.1 per cent effective, Health Canada said in a notice authorizing use of the vaccine.

“There were no important safety issues identified and no life-threatening adverse events (AEs) or deaths related to the vaccine,” the notice said.

This is the second COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by Health Canada. The department approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine on Dec. 9, and it’s already being administered in parts of the country to people in high-priority groups, including health-care workers as well as long-term care workers and residents.

Moderna vaccine requires 2 doses

Like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Massachusetts-based Moderna’s shot requires two doses to achieve maximum immunity. It uses mRNA technology — a new vaccine technology that directs cells to produce proteins that trigger an immune response to prevent or fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Moderna approval means vaccinations can begin in northern, remote and Indigenous communities, as the storage requirements of the Moderna vaccine are less onerous than those required for Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would receive up to 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of December, and that deliveries would begin within 48 hours of Health Canada’s authorization.

In August, Canada placed an order for 20 million doses of the Moderna product. Earlier this month, Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced the government would exercise its contractual option for 20 million more shots in 2021. Canada could still buy up to another 16 million doses.

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