The drug, named Evusheld, is intended for people who cannot receive a typical vaccine or for whom vaccines alone won’t provide enough immunity.
The drug was not approved as a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19 for most people.
“Both the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada continue to strongly recommend up-to-date vaccination for all eligible Canadians,” Health Canada said in a news release Thursday.
While a vaccine effectively teaches the body to make its own antibodies over a short period of time, AstraZeneca’s product delivers ready-made antibodies to immediately start fighting off the virus.
The antibodies are delivered as two separate injections, before exposure to COVID-19.
Drug trial data released in November showed an 83 per cent reduction in the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19, compared to a placebo after about six months.
“For vulnerable populations, such as those who are immune-compromised, Evusheld helps to address an unmet need in the ongoing fight against COVID-19,” said Kiersten Combs, president of AstraZeneca Canada.
Canada has already signed an agreement with AstraZeneca to receive 100,000 doses this year.
Health Canada has placed conditions on the drug’s approval, including a requirement for AstraZeneca to continuously provide updated information on the safety and efficacy of the antibody combination.
The agency said lab studies show Evusheld is expected to neutralize BA.2, a sublineage of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is running rampant in communities across Canada.
The company says health professionals should consider offering a larger dose of the antibodies in areas where Omicron is circulating.
AstraZeneca has been studying the combination as a potential treatment for COVID-19 as well, though the drug has not been approved for that use.