Ontario resumes use of AstraZeneca, but only as a second dose


Workers unload a shipment of the Modern COVID-19 vaccine at the FedEx Center at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Credit: Cole Burston / The Canadian Press via AP

Canada’s most populous province resumes use of the COVID-19 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but only as a second dose for those who had initially received it, officials said.

Ontario and several other provinces stopped giving the first doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca earlier this month due to concerns about reported links to rare blood clots, which previously led some European countries to restrict their use.

The Ontario government said the decision was also based on increasing the supply of alternative vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna and in cases.

The province has also lagged behind in second place in order to get the maximum number of people covered by a first shot. Although the protocols initially called for a three-week interval, studies found that a longer gap was often more effective.

Ontario Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams said “informed consent” is needed to get the second dose of AstraZeneca. Those who got the first dose between March 10 and 19 will be eligible as soon as next week for the second shot.

The government said UK data strongly suggest a very low risk of rare blood cradles in second-dose AstraZeneca. Williams said he is one in every 600,000.

Ontario has more than 50,000 doses of the vaccine that will expire by the end of the month and officials do not want to waste them.

The province said nearly one million Ontarians aged 40 and over received the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose between March 10 and May 11.

Canada has outpaced the United States in the percentage of people with at least one dose, but Canada has only completely vaccinated about 3% of the population. Second doses are expected to be given to most adults in June and July in Canada.

Canada has relied heavily on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Plans to distribute the first 300,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 in Canada are still on hold after Health Canada learned that part of them were being manufactured at a Maryland facility, where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had discovered manufacturing violations.

Meanwhile, Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada is extending the ban on direct passenger flights from India and Pakistan for another 30 days until June 21.

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