Canada adds Johnson & Johnson to its COVID-19 vaccine arsenal


Government officials announced Friday news that Canada not only approved a new vaccine but that they will also be receiving millions of doses sooner than expected.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, developed in the U.S. by pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen Inc., has passed Health Canada’s authorization.

“As with all of the other vaccines we have secured, we’re working to get doses to Canadians as quickly as possible,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

The Janssen vaccine is a single dose vaccine and travels better than previous vaccines as it can be stored at refrigerated temperatures between 2 and 8 Celsius for at least three months.

It’s intended for people 18 years and older and almost 20 per cent of individuals in the clinical trials were 65 years of age or older.

Clinical trials of the vaccine with children 12 to 18 years old has been authorized by Health Canada and they are currently seeking candidates.

The side effects of the Janssen vaccine remain the same as others which is pain at the injection site, muscle pain, fever and chills.

The new Janssen vaccine was shown to be 66 per cent effective overall during trials but there were five deaths from those who received a placebo rather than the actual vaccine.

It has also shown a proven efficacy against the Brazilian, South African and U.S. based COVID variants. The U.S. variant is the predominant variant strain in Canada.

Today’s news also revealed Canada will be receiving millions of doses sooner than expected.

“Pfizer has informed us that we are able to move up the delivery of three and a half million doses from the summer into the next couple of months. Pfizer will be delivering an additional 1.5 million doses to Canada this March.” Trudeau announced, adding that we will also receive an additional one million doses in both April and May.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said Canada is the first major regulator to authorize four vaccines.

“Although this process was completed in a shorter timeframe Health Canada’s rigorous review standards were upheld,” Sharma told reporters at a press conference Friday morning.

Sharma said getting vaccinated by any of the approved vaccines greatly reduces your chances of getting COVID -19 and just because the new vaccine is only 66 per cent effective it is still a valuable weapon in Canada’s vaccine portfolio.

She said Canada needs to trust their health professionals and scientists and be confident in our vaccines.

“I would not hesitate to roll up my sleeve and get any of the vaccines that we have authorized by Health Canada,” Sharma said.

The federal government said it will be receiving the new Johnson & Johnson vaccines this spring but have not received the delivery schedule yet form the manufacturer.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.