• By The Financial District


Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, days after Britain became the first country to greenlight and roll it out, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

"Today's authorization marks a critical milestone in our efforts to bring Covid-19 under control," the government's chief medical advisor Supriya Sharma told a news conference. "The availability of vaccines will increase throughout the year (2021), providing every Canadian with the opportunity to be immunized," she added, saying three other vaccine candidates -- including one developed by US-based Moderna, which could be delivered later this month -- were currently being evaluated.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that as many as 249,000 doses would be received in December, with the first shipments to 14 sites across Canada arriving as early as next week and people receiving shots a day or two later. Health care workers and vulnerable populations including the elderly are to be the first to receive it. By September 2021, Trudeau said, most Canadians should be inoculated.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had undergone a fast-tracked review while it was still in clinical trials, which concluded that it met "stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements for use in Canada," said the country's health department, Health Canada. Marc Berthiaume, director of Health Canada's bureau of medical science, said its evaluation found "strong evidence that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks."