The AstraZeneca Vaccine: what Canadians need to know

Canada has pre-ordered 20 million doses of the vaccine from AstraZeneca and plans to order more.

AstraZeneca is only one of the seven vaccines Canada has pre-ordered, which might give Canadians multiple options. 

Authorities have paused the AstraZeneca vaccine’s rollout in South Africa after a study found it offers only limited protection against the coronavirus variant first identified there.

“South Africa suspended their use because AstraZeneca’s formula was found not to be as protective as it was expected due to the variant,” said Reggie Y Lo, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph.

He added, “As long as we do not have many cases of South African variants in Canada, the vaccine should work.” 

Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

Professor Lo added,  “I would expect in a couple of months to have four or five different types of vaccines available in Canada.”

“Currently, we may have five vaccines that are effective against the original version of the virus, and each of those companies is going to be modifying their vaccines against these new variants, depending on how much protection they need,” said Professor Lo.

“AstraZeneca is now modifying, proving that the vaccine targeting the South African variant, which will probably take a couple of months and so by then they will have an effective vaccine for the South African variant,” said Professor Lo.

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is being tweaked to cope with the South African variant. The vaccine’s lead researcher said a modified version of the vaccine will be ready by fall.