OTTAWA – Eight months after the vaccine was first cleared by Health Canada, usable doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-injection COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive “imminently,” says administrator Dr. Theresa Tam in chief of public health.
âWe have access to certain doses from Europe, which have been purchased. They have been verified by Health Canada to meet standards for safety, quality and effectiveness, âTam told reporters on Friday.
“I expect these doses to arrive in the next few days, and the distribution taking place shortly thereafterâ¦ we should expect to see some of these doses imminently.”
It comes after the federal government last month assessed provincial and territorial interest in vaccine shipments, prompted by Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia to demand the vaccine against the viral vector.
The Janssen vaccine was cleared for use in adults 18 years of age and older by Health Canada in March 2021, but Canada has yet to have usable doses in the country despite supply agreements ensuring access to at least 10 million.
It was the fourth COVID-19 vaccine to receive the regulatory green light in this country, one of two viral vector vaccines alongside AstraZeneca, and the only single-injection option.
The first shipment of over 300,000 doses that landed was held up and was never distributed after Health Canada learned that a drug substance used in the vaccine was produced at the Emerging BioSolutions facility in Baltimore , in Maryland, where quality control issues had been raised by the United States. Food and Drug Administration, resulting in millions of doses of spoiled J&J.
In the months that followed, sufficient doses of the other three COVID-19 vaccines were administered, allowing Canada to have enough doses in July to fully immunize the entire eligible population.
Then last month then Health Minister Patty Hajdu said work was underway to procure usable doses from trusted manufacturers.
Tam said on Friday that the doses of J&J will come from Europe, as the US plant’s manufacturing issue “continues to be investigated.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has suggested the single viral vector vaccine may help allay the concerns of those hesitant about the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines.
âAlberta and Saskatchewan are committed to working together to secure a supply of Janssen vaccine. The intention is to provide it to primary health care sites or locations where the single dose vaccine option would result in increased COVID-19 vaccination, âthe Saskatchewan Ministry of Health said in a previous statement to CTV News.
Likewise, the British Columbia Ministry of Health said the province had requested the vaccine against the viral vector “on several occasions.”
“We have requested in writing 50,000 doses … Having a variety of vaccination options is important to ensure that we can provide vaccines to as many people as possible and reduce transmission of the virus,” reads -on in their statement.
It remains to be seen whether Health Canada or the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) will release new guidelines for this vaccine, with NACI having previously stated that it should only be offered to Canadians 30 years of age and older, and that mRNA vaccines are preferred due to higher efficacy.
The US FDA recently approved second-injection boosters of the J&J vaccine, citing concerns that those who received it do not have the same level of protection as those who received a series of two-dose vaccines. .
Canada’s federal vaccine mandates currently consider anyone who has received a full series of a vaccine authorized by Health Canada to be fully immunized.
With files from CTV News’s Sarah Turnbull