Canada’s vaccine rollout received a significant boost Friday with the approval of a third COVID-19 inoculation, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced another partnership with an India-based institute that will deliver two million additional doses of the newly authorized jab to Canadians by the spring.
Trudeau spoke on Friday hours after Health Canada announced it had approved a COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.
The new partnership also means Canada will receive two million doses of the CoviShield vaccine, which is the same as AstraZeneca’s product, through an agreement with Mississauga, Ont.’s Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India.
A shipment of 500,000 doses is set to arrive in Canada on Wednesday, the chief executive of local partner Verity Pharmaceuticals said on Friday.
Verity’s chief executive, Howard Glase, said the shipment is not part of Canada’s allocation from the COVAX system, meant to ensure equitable vaccine distribution. Canada has a separate procurement deal with AstraZeneca, which licensed the vaccine to Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer.
Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said in a briefing Friday that the CoviShield and AstraZeneca products are “for all intents and purposes” the same vaccine.
The difference is in where they are manufactured, she said, using the analogy of the same recipe made in two different kitchens.
The two million doses of CoviShield are in addition to the 20 million doses Canada already secured with AstraZeneca that will start arriving in the spring.
Trudeau said as vaccinations ramp up across the country, many provinces have expanded the number of health professions able to administer a COVID-19 vaccine, and he asked for dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians and retired nurses to lend a hand in the rollout.