The country has no domestic production, and the government has been accused of not acquiring doses quickly enough.
On Friday, Canadian public health authorities authorized the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in people aged 18 years or older. This makes the vaccine the third approved shot for the prevention of COVID-19 in the country, following approvals for both Pfizer and Moderna late last year.
With the approval of AstraZeneca, Canada has secured more doses of vaccine per person than any other country on the globe. However, their vaccination efforts have been lagging behind other countries such as the United States, Britain and Israel.
Health Canada posted the regulatory decision summary to its website and has made an arrangement with the company to purchase 20 million doses of its vaccine, with an additional 1.9 million doses coming by way of the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX by the end of June.
“Efficacy in individuals 65 years of age and older is supported by immunogenicity data, emerging real world evidence and post-market experience in regions where the vaccine has been deployed, which suggest at this point in time a potential benefit and no safety concerns," Health Canada said.
“Based on the totality of the information, the benefit-risk profile of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine is positive for the proposed indication in adults 18 years and over."
While the US has not approved the vaccine for use yet, other countries such as the UK has, and France deemed it safe for use in those 65 years and younger.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has had many ups and downs since it began development and research. Earlier this month, South Africa announced that it was deciding to forgo using it in their vaccination efforts due to data that showed it was not as efficacious against the 501Y.V2 variant.