Canada has approved 2 coronavirus vaccines. How are other candidates progressing?

With the approval of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine Wednesday, Canada now has two shots to combat the pandemic — with enough doses on order to inoculate every Canadian by next fall.

The federal government has signed agreements with Moderna for 40 million doses of its two-dose vaccine. Those will eventually join the up to 76 million doses agreed to with Pfizer and BioNTech, the makers of the first vaccine approved for use in Canada. 

Read more: Moderna vaccine approved: What we know about side effects, ingredients and doses

Yet there are also deals signed with four other vaccine makers to eventually deliver up to 282 million combined doses of their shots, provided they’re approved for use by Health Canada. Two of those vaccines — one by Janssen and Johnson & Johnson, the other by AstraZeneca — are currently being reviewed.

Here’s where each of those vaccines currently stand in the development and the review processes.

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Coronavirus: Canada to receive an additional 250,000 Pfizer vaccine doses in January

Johnson & Johnson

The pharmaceutical giant’s vaccine is being developed along with its medical research and development subsidiary, Janssen. It’s the only single-dose vaccine that has advanced to Phase 3 clinical trials.

The company said last week that roughly 45,000 participants in several countries have now signed up to receive the pharmaceutical company’s vaccine during the trial, which began in September.

If the trial stays on schedule, initial data on the shot’s effectiveness is expected to be released by the end of January.

Read more: Johnson & Johnson expects to release late-stage coronavirus vaccine data in January

Early trials of the vaccine showed that 98 per cent of participants had developed antibodies against COVID-19 nearly a month after receiving the shot.

Health Canada began conducting a rolling review of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine at the end of November, meaning it will look at the company’s data as it is submitted throughout the Phase 3 trial process. The application was accepted based on the strong results seen in early trials.

Canada has signed a deal with Johnson & Johnson to receive up to 38 million doses of its vaccine if it is approved for use.

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Coronavirus: Johnson & Johnson applied for vaccine approval for Health Canada, minister says – Dec 1, 2020

AstraZeneca

The vaccine being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University is cheaper than other vaccines currently being developed or reviewed. It can also be stored for longer periods at normal refrigerator temperatures, while others like Pfizer’s shot must be kept at a deep freeze.

Data from AstraZeneca’s late-stage trials in the UK and Brazil released earlier this month showed the vaccine had efficacy of 62 per cent for trial participants given two full doses, but 90 per cent for a smaller sub-group given a half, then a full dose. The pooled data showed the shot is 70 per cent effective overall.

Read more: Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine shows 70% overall efficacy, more work needed: study

That data came after the company had to walk back its announcement in November that the shot was far more effective, forcing a new round of trials.

The vaccine was submitted to Health Canada for review at the beginning of October. Just before that application was received, Ottawa signed a deal to procure up to 20 million doses.

Health Canada said it is also conducting a rolling review of AstraZeneca’s data, but has not said how much of that data has been reviewed so far. A timeline on approval has not been released.

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AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine looks promising, 70% effective on average – Nov 23, 2020

Novavax

U.S. firm Novavax is running a late-stage trial in Britain with data due in the first quarter of 2021. It expects to start a large-scale trial in the United States this month, after multiple delays.

Early trials have shown promise in boosting participants’ immune responses against the coronavirus, according to the company.

Read more: ‘Good news’: Coronavirus vaccine will still protect against new U.K. variant, WHO says

The company has not yet submitted an application for review to Health Canada. However, the federal government has signed an agreement for up to 76 million doses to be ordered once it’s approved.

Medicago

A vaccine candidate developed by the Québec-based company Medicago is currently in Phase 1 clinical trials, which have shown promising results.

The federal government has invested up to $173 million into Medicago’s vaccine program, and has signed an agreement for up to 76 million doses — provided it’s approved.

The funding will also help the company establish a large-scale production facility for the vaccine.

Unlike other vaccine candidates, Medicago is composing virus-like particles produced in plants infected with bacteria that have been genetically modified to produce several SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Researchers can extract the particles from the leaves and purify them.

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Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline

France’s Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline announced a setback on Dec. 11 in their attempts to develop a vaccine.

The drugmakers said it showed an insufficient immune response in older people in mid-stage trials and that they would start a new study in February.

Canada will procure up to 72 million doses of that vaccine under an agreement signed with both companies if the vaccine candidate progresses to Phase 3 trials and regulatory approval.

Pfizer, Moderna testing children

Despite their approvals, both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines are not being recommended for children due to a lack of data.

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said Wednesday that both companies are in the process of putting together studies with child participants.

Read more: ‘Possibility’ Moderna vaccine could be approved for children in 2021, Health Canada says

According to Sharma, recruitment for Moderna’s trials for children aged 12 to 17 is already underway, with a goal of recruiting up to 3,000 participants.

Pfizer-BioNtech is also planning to study the effects of its vaccine on children as young as five years old, which Sharma said will likely begin in the spring.

—With files from Global’s Emerald Bensadoun and Reuters

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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