Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam speaks as she is joined by Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Safety won’t be compromised for vaccine, Canada’s top doctors say

Last week, Canada signed deals with two vaccine developers, Pfizer and Moderna

Canada will not cut corners to get a vaccine candidate for COVID-19 approved, the country’s chief public health officer said Tuesday.

As news emerged that Russia had approved the world’s first such vaccine, Dr. Theresa Tam said she is as anxious as anyone for a safe and effective vaccine to be ready, but that getting one quickly doesn’t mean compromising safety.

“Getting this done in record time is no easy feat, as we must ensure any vaccine demonstrates the highest standard of safety and effectiveness,” Tam said at a media briefing in Ottawa.

“There are many steps and partners across research, government and industry required to produce and deliver a safe and effective vaccine. All steps and partners are crucial. Nothing gets cut.”

Tam said for Canada, fast-tracking a vaccine means trying to do some things at the same time. That could mean while a vaccine candidate is still in its third and final clinical trial phase, governments are developing plans to produce, distribute and administer that vaccine if it gets approved.

Scientists both within Russia and outside it sounded alarm at the early approval of the Russian vaccine, which was developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow and Russia’s ministry of defence. Russia’s health ministry claimed that the vaccine, which modifies a common cold virus to try and mimic the novel coronavirus, will make someone immune to COVID-19 for up to two years.

But Russian scientists have published no data on the evidence to back that up.

Tam would not comment on Russia’s vaccine at all because she said she doesn’t have enough information about it.

Her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, said there is just not much information available about how effective that vaccine has been, any side effects it had for the people it was tested on, or how many people were involved in those trials. He said one of the only indicators is the amount of time that passed between the discovery of the vaccine and the decision to approve it.

“It seems quite short, based on what we know about how normally vaccine trials go,” Njoo said.

Vaccines normally go through at least three phases of testing, with very small numbers of volunteers receiving it in the first two phases. In phase three, the number of people it is tested on grows exponentially. At least two of the vaccine candidates being developed in the United States are testing their product on 30,000 healthy adults in phase three.

The Moscow vaccine appears to have been given approval before any phase three trial, citing enough success in the first two phases.

Tam warned last week that getting a vaccine approved won’t be a “silver bullet” to stop the pandemic because approval is just the first step. She said Tuesday the success of any approved vaccine will depend heavily on getting Canadians to take it.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada surpassed the 120,000 mark Tuesday, with 8,987 deaths attributed to the disease. Tam says almost nine in 10 patients have already recovered.

There are more than two dozen COVID-19 vaccine candidates in various clinical testing phases around the world, and Tam said eight are in the third and final phase. Most companies behind those trials have said not to expect results until the fall.

Last week, Canada signed deals with two vaccine developers, Pfizer and Moderna, to get access to millions of doses of their experimental vaccines if they succeed at phase three trials and are approved by Health Canada. The earliest either is expected to arrive in Canada for use in patients is next winter.

Tam said she is “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine is coming and she has full confidence in Health Canada’s approval process to ensure any vaccine Canadians are given is both safe and effective.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Invermere gets new CAO

Invermere found his new CAO after a long period of research.

Radium council discusses short term rentals

RHS council are elaborating the second draft plan for STR

Doctor Creek fire finally ‘being held’

The wildfire in Canal Flats is under control

Mount Nelson Community Garden

The Community Garden in the Mount Nelson Athletic Park is now full of vegies, herbs and flowers.

KCP accepts proposal for Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund

CVLCF will now provide financial support for local projects

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read