Health Canada says it still needs more information before it can make a decision on the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine — news that came after the United Kingdom became the first country to authorize the vaccine.
In a statement released Wednesday, Canada’s independent regulator said it’s been reviewing the manufacturer’s vaccine information since Oct. 1 and as new data roll in.
“There is still information and data to be provided by AstraZeneca for review,” says the statement.
“Health Canada cannot provide a definite timeline for the completion of the review at this time.”
Earlier Wednesday, the U.K. announced the vaccine’s approval, with the health secretary saying rollout will start Jan. 4 in that country.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been praised for its low cost and ease of use. Unlike other vaccines, it can be stored in refrigerators rather than ultra-cold storage units.
Canada, which has signed agreements to procure a range of vaccine candidates, has a deal with AstraZeneca for 20 million doses.
“Health Canada is working hard to give Canadians access to COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible without compromising its safety, efficacy and quality standards,” said the Health Canada statement.
“Protecting the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority.”
Health Canada has authorized two vaccines — the messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc.
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