Health Canada approves ‘game-changer’ Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

TORONTO — Health Canada has approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for use in this country with the first doses expected to be delivered by Christmas.

Canada is now the second country in the world after the U.S. to approve the Moderna shot, the second coronavirus vaccine to get the green light in the country’s mass immunization effort. Two weeks ago, the federal health agency approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Health Canada has deemed the Moderna vaccine effective and safe for use on Canadians, which means deliveries of the first set of doses will begin imminently, weeks faster than the original timeline to receive shipments in January.

“Canada has an internationally recognized process of independent review, and I know that our best experts have upheld this highest standard,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “Now that Health Canada has approved the Moderna vaccine, we have the green light to start rolling it out across the country.”

Trudeau has said previously that Canada will receive up to 168,000 doses of the vaccine this month, with deliveries arriving between 24 and 48 hours after approval, as per the government’s contract with the U.S. biotech company.

“We know that this pandemic doesn’t start to end until we have vaccination of millions and millions of people which is why we’re continuing to ensure that everything is done safely and responsibly, to make those vaccines available as quickly as possible and we all look forward to things being much better in the spring,” Trudeau said.

Moderna has promised 40 million doses to Canada by the end of 2021.

“Today’s authorization is one more tool in our toolbox to bring COVID-19 under control,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical advisor for Health Canada, said at a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.