TORONTO (Sputnik) - The Canadian government will begin reviewing a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca to ensure it meets rigorous safety standards, the Public Health Agency said on Friday.
The announcement comes as polls show many Canadians are reluctant to get vaccinated due to concerns over potential side effects. Moreover, within the past few weeks, several countries halted trials of the the company's AZD1222 vaccine due to an unexplained illness.
"Yesterday, Health Canada received its first submission for authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford," the agency said in a statement. "Health Canada will be doing a rolling review of AstraZeneca's vaccine data to make sure it meets the Department's rigorous safety and efficacy requirements."
The AstraZeneca vaccine against the deadly disease becomes the first candidate to be tested in the country. Canada struck a deal last week to buy 20 million doses of the vaccine from the UK-Swedish pharmaceutical giant.
The move comes as the country struggles to contain, what Trudeau says, is the second wave of the deadly pandemic. In the month of September, Canadian authorities have recorded more than 30,000 new infections, including more than 12,000 in the last week alone.
Should the vaccine candidate be approved, authorities face a tall order convincing Canadians to get vaccinated. According to an Angus Reid Institute poll unveiled on Friday, less than two out of five Canadians say they would immediately get immunized against COVID-19 when a vaccine becomes available.
"New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds fewer than half of Canadians (39%) say they’d seek to be vaccinated as soon as one was widely available. Just as many say they’d be willing to take a vaccine, but would want to wait first (38%), while the rest are split between taking a solid anti-vaccination stance (16%) and indecision (7%)," the poll found.
The institute noted that the number of those willing to take the COVID-19 jab forthwith dropped by seven percent since July. The hesitancy grew across the political spectrum with most of those opting to wait or foregoing the immunization entirely citing potential side effects as a concern.
The US put a pause on AstraZeneca vaccine trials a few weeks ago due to side effects. US federal regulators, however, are currently in talks to resume trials, CNBC reported on Friday.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Canada has surpassed 161,000 with 9,300 deaths reported, government data revealed on Friday.
More than 700 new cases in Ontario 161,267, according to data released by the provincial health agency. There are 14,866 active cases throughout the country, Canada’s public health agency says.