Health officials are expected to make an announcement on the ongoing fight against COVID-19 Thursday as provincial health systems eagerly await the approval of a vaccine that targets the Omicron variant of the virus.
Vaccines currently available in Canada target only the original strain of COVID-19.
The new shots under review by Health Canada, called bivalent vaccines, are designed to recognize specific mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron BA.1 subvariant.
The United Kingdom approved Moderna’s bivalent vaccine two weeks ago, and the United States Food and Drug Administration gave Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s Omicron-fighting shots the green light earlier this week.
Canada has already purchased 12 million doses of Moderna’s version of the Omicron vaccine, which includes converting some existing orders for the original Moderna vaccine so that the newly-adapted version will be delivered instead.
Health officials have organized a technical briefing this morning, and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is expected to speak to the importance of getting a booster shot this afternoon.
Duclos has already signalled that a swift rollout of the vaccines will be important to fend off another potentially large wave of infections in the fall.
The Omicron variant arrived in Canada in late 2021 and has spread aggressively ever since. Subvariants of Omicron are now by far the most common strains of the virus.
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