AstraZeneca Vaccine Approved in the UK
Yesterday the UK announced the approval of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use within their region. This is a very big deal for the UK as they had pre-ordered almost twice as many more doses from AstraZeneca than any other potential vaccine supplier. Unfortunately, this decision also comes with a certain level of risk involved.
AstraZeneca ran into some issues with the Phase III trials of their vaccine due to a dosing error resulting in inconsistent efficacy. The range of effectiveness varied from 62% to 90%, and initially, they tried to present it as averaging around 70%. In the end, it was concluded that additional testing was required to determine the most effective dosage for the best protection. The UK has decided to move forward without this knowledge and has also decided to allow people who are pregnant and breastfeeding to be able to receive the vaccine as well, despite a complete lack of testing data to back up this decision. The reason given for both decisions is the argument that the known risks involved with COVID-19 outweigh the potential risks from taking the vaccine.
It is important to mention that the safety data from the Phase III trials was not compromised and that the vaccine itself is known to be safe overall, it is that we do not know what dosage will produce the best results, and we do not know how it may interact with pregnancy or breastfeeding at this time.
Health Canada, however, has announced that it will not be approving the AstraZeneca vaccine until it has received further results and data, and can not give a timeline on any approval until that data has been provided to them. This information should come as a relief to any individuals worried that Health Canada might be rushing or overlooking elements in their approval process currently.
Air Travel Into Canada Will Require Negative PCR Test
While we do not have an exact date for when it will be implemented, the Federal Government has confirmed that soon all air travel into Canada will require a negative PCR swab test taken within the last 3 days.
While asymptomatic testing is generally unreliable and is known for producing false negatives along with a potentially dangerous false sense of security, there is a lot of pressure right now to enhance Canada’s safety measures against people bringing in the B.1.1.7 strain of COVID-19, or the potentially more dangerous 501.V2 variant.
501.V2 Variant Spreading to Other Countries
The 501.V2 variant of COVID-19 is unique in that not only is believed to spread much easier than the conventional form of the virus, but it also is more likely to infect people in their 20’s and 30’s and also result in serious illness or intensive care.
Over the last few days, the variant has been detected in the UK, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Australia, Zambia, and most recently France, in addition to South Africa where it was originally discovered.
Happy New Year!
This has been a very difficult year for so many of us, not just in BC, but all of Canada and the world. With the influx of new strains of COVID-19, delays in vaccines, and gatherings of individuals intent on breaking public health orders, it’s easy to become anxious and scared. But please remember that despite all that we have already overcome so much. And the hope we now have in putting all this behind us is greater now than it ever has been! More than 17,500 vaccinations have been administered in BC so far, and over 100,000 across Canada. Every day those numbers jump ahead even further! Soon we will be able to see our loved ones again safely and be able to gather and properly mourn the loved ones we’ve lost. So more than ever let us remember to be kind, be calm, and be safe this new year’s eve.
We will be taking a short break for the holidays and will be returning to the regular posting schedule at the next live briefing date (currently expected to be January 4th or 5th).
That’s all for 2020, stay safe everyone!