Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been given the full rubber stamp, after receiving full Health Canada approval for anyone aged 12 and older on Thursday.
Pfizer and Moderna’s shots were first authorized for use months ago. That green light, however, was under an interim order that allowed for a speedy rollout of the vaccines to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 — an order that ended on Sept. 16.
As that order came to term, the vaccines were transitioned to full approval under the Food and Drug Regulations, in what a co-founder of BioNTech is calling “a testament to the vaccine’s efficacy and safety profile.”
“Our companies have shipped more than 1.4 billion doses worldwide,” said Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech.
With the full approval comes some new names for the vaccines, which Health Canada announced on Twitter Thursday morning.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will now be known as “Comirnaty,” Health Canada wrote. Moderna’s, meanwhile, has been dubbed “Spikevax” and AstraZeneca’s will be called “Vaxzevria.”
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“These are only name changes. There are no changes to the vaccines themselves,” Health Canada said.
The United States granted Pfizer’s jab full FDA approval on Aug. 23, just weeks before full approval was granted in Canada. Pfizer executives said the full approval couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Based on the longer-term follow-up data that we submitted, today’s decision by Health Canada affirms the efficacy and safety profile of our vaccine at a time when it is urgently needed,” said Fabien Paquette, who is the vaccines lead for Pfizer Canada.
“While a significant number of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, there is still much work to be done as infection and hospitalization rates continue to rise across the country, primarily among unvaccinated populations.”
Canada’s vaccine uptake has slowed in recent weeks following an enthusiastic initial rollout. Over 84 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 have received at least one COVID-19 shot, and over 77 per cent of eligible Canadians are now fully vaccinated.
However, less than 0.6 per cent of Canadians came out to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the last week, according to Health Canada — despite the fact that 15 per cent of those eligible have yet to get their shot.