Canada review of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine candidate should be done soon, minister says

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Health Patty Hajdu speaks in parliament during Question Period in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick Doyle/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian health authorities should soon complete their regulatory review of Pfizer Inc’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Wednesday.

Hajdu posted her comment on Twitter shortly after Britain approved the candidate. Pfizer developed the vaccine with its German partner BioNTech SE.

Health Canada is reviewing vaccine candidates from Pfizer, AstraZeneca Plc, Modern Inc and Johnson & Johnson but has yet to approve any of them.

“The news that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved in the U.K. is encouraging. Health Canada’s review of this candidate is ongoing, and is expected to be completed soon,” Hajdu tweeted.

Canada’s Liberal government, which has signed deals with a total of seven vaccine manufacturers, says doses could arrive soon after any approval.

A second wave of the virus is sweeping Canada, setting daily records for the number of new daily cases. So far Canada has reported a total of 383,468 cases of COVID-19 and 12,212 deaths.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Ottawa has assured his provincial government that shipments will start arriving by Jan. 4. Kenney announced the formation of a task force to distribute vaccine shipments and said his government was aiming to immunize 435,000 people, or 10% of Alberta’s population, in the first three months next year.

Alberta has the second-highest rate of total cases among provinces. On Wednesday it reported another 1,685 new cases and 10 deaths.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported that Alberta had asked the federal government and Canadian Red Cross to supply field hospitals, as its health-care system becomes overwhelmed. Kenney said the inquiry was simply responsible planning and that Alberta was not close to needing such capacity.

Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates