TORONTO (AP) – The health minister in Canada’s most populous province said Tuesday that older adults in Ontario will not receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as there is limited data on its effectiveness in older populations.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario plans to follow the advice of a national panel that recommends not using the recently approved vaccine in people 65 and older.
He said it is recommended that anyone older than that age receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Canada’s regulator last week approved Oxford-AstraZeneca for all adults, including seniors, but the National Immunization Advisory Committee said this week that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are preferred for seniors because of the “suggested superior efficacy”.
Health authorities in France, Germany and other countries have also expressed concern that AstraZeneca has not tested the vaccine in enough older people to show that it works for them and indicated that they would not recommend it for people over 65 years of age.
Belgium has authorized it only for people 55 and under.
France said this week that it will allow some people over 65 to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, after initially restricting its use to younger populations due to limited data on the drug’s effectiveness.
Last month, South Africa scaled back its planned launch of the AstraZeneca vaccine, opting instead to use an unlicensed injection from Johnson & Johnson for its healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Pacific Coast province of British Columbia plans to delay the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by four months.
Ontario and Alberta are also considering following the province’s lead.
British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the decision “was made in the context of limited supply and was based on strong local and international data.
“This makes sense to us, knowing that it is a critical time right now with the limited amount of vaccines that we have in the coming weeks, to be able to provide that protection … to everyone here,” Henry said.
Chief Scientific Advisor Mona Nemer told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that the British Columbia plan amounts to a “population-level experiment” and that the data provided so far by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are based on a range of three to four. weeks between doses.
Henry said manufacturers structured their clinical trials that way to get the vaccines to market as quickly as possible, but research in BC, Quebec, Israel and the UK has shown early doses to be highly effective.