Health Canada says the COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Moderna is safe for use in Canada, with officials saying Wednesday that “solid scientific proof show that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.”
The vaccine is the second to be greenlit in Canada, following the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on Dec. 9.
Moderna anticipates starting shipments to Canada within the next 48 hours.
Up to 168,000 doses are set to arrive by the end of December, and two million by the end of March.
In an update Wednesday afternoon, Health Canada said Moderna’s vaccine doesn’t require the same extreme freezing as the Pfizer-BioNtech offering, meaning it will be easier to be distributed in rural areas.
Canada is to get 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or about two-thirds of the Canadian adult population.
Health Canada’s chief medical advisor Dr. Supriya Sharma said she expects both approved vaccines to be effective against the virus variant that is spreading in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world.
“In general we believe they will be effective (against the variant), we are still waiting for some additional information to confirm (that).” she said.
The vaccine is not yet recommended for use on children as tests on adolescents only began in December and tests on children younger than 12 won’t begin until next year.
Canada’s doses of the Moderna vaccine are being made in Europe.
The first doses are prioritized for front-line health staff, residents and workers in long-term care, adults in remote Indigenous communities, and seniors over the age of 80 living in the community.