Canada approves AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

(Reuters) – Canada’s drug regulator approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, the third inoculation to get a green light and paving the way for health authorities to accelerate Canada’s lagging vaccination campaign.

The vaccine was approved under Canada’s interim order system, which allows for accelerated approvals similar to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorizations.

It was not immediately clear if the approval covered both AstraZeneca’s own application and a second application by Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc and Serum Institute of India to import doses made in India.

Canada approved vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna in December, but did not follow the British drug regulator’s lead in approving AstraZeneca’s vaccine based on trial data published in November.

The United States has not yet approved the vaccine, though the European Union has. The drugmaker has told the European Union it expects to deliver less than half the COVID-19 vaccines it was contracted to supply in the second quarter.

Canada has ordered more COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita than any other country, according to publicly announced procurement deals, but its early rollout has been relatively slow, in part because of slow deliveries from manufacturers.

(Reporting by Allison Martell and Julie Gordon. Editing by Alex Richardson and Mark Potter)

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