Canada is getting a fourth vaccine to prevent Covid-19 as the country's health regulator has cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two, officials said Friday. Health experts are eager for a one-and-done option to help speed vaccination. Canada has also approved vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, and Health Canada is the first major regulator to approve four different vaccines, said Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser.
Canada does not have domestic production and has struggled with an immediate shortage of vaccines. The U.S. so far isn't allowing locally made vaccines to be exported, so Canada _ like the other U.S. neighbor, Mexico _ has been forced to get vaccines from Europe and Asia. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has an agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 10 million doses before September. It was not immediately clear when Canada would get its first shipments of those.
The U.S. approved Johnson and Johnson last month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said J&J's vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations, and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe Covid-19 illness in a massive study that spanned three continents _ protection remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading. The vaccine shortage is so acute in Canada that provincial governments are now saying they will extend the interval between the two doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines to four months rather than three to four weeks so they can quickly inoculate more people.
The provincial Ontario government, meanwhile, said it is lifting its stay-at-home order next week in Toronto, Canada's largest city. Ontario will allow retailers to reopen for in-person shopping, but only with a 25% capacity limit. Many restrictions will remain in place. Indoor and outdoor dining services will continue to be prohibited. Hair salons also can't reopen.