In response to early indications suggesting a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, Health Canada is actively assessing three novel vaccines designed to combat the Omicron subvariant of the virus. These vaccines, developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax, are undergoing a comprehensive review and are expected to be available for distribution in the fall.
Aligned with U.S. Plans: The projected timeline for the new vaccine rollout in Canada aligns with the approach taken in the United States. A fresh COVID-19 booster is expected to be introduced south of the border in late September, contingent on regulatory approval for these updated shots.
Addressing the Omicron Subvariant: The new vaccines are tailored to target the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant, which has gained widespread prevalence. Health Canada has emphasized that while these vaccines are aimed explicitly at this subvariant, the new mRNA vaccine formulation supply is expected to be substantial.
Novavax’s Alternative Option: Novavax’s non-mRNA vaccine, which is protein-based, will be introduced later in the year. This option is geared toward individuals unable or unwilling to receive an mRNA vaccine, providing a broader spectrum of choices.
Uptick in Positive Cases: Despite a relatively lower number of reported COVID-19 cases compared to previous periods, specific regions, including Public Health Ontario (PHO), have reported a rise in positive test results. The positivity rate has increased notably from early July to mid-August.
NACI’s Recommendation: The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has advised that individuals previously vaccinated against COVID-19 should prepare for a dose of the new vaccine formulation once available. NACI recommends a booster shot if at least six months have passed since the previous vaccination or infection.
Enhancing Protection: NACI highlights that the new vaccine formulations have been designed to improve protection against recent immune-evading variants. A booster dose will bolster immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 symptoms during the upcoming respiratory virus season in 2023-2024.
Paving the Path Forward: As Health Canada reviews these novel vaccines and NACI provides recommendations, the nation prepares for a comprehensive approach to mitigate the potential resurgence of COVID-19. With considerations for hybrid immunity and the broader impact on public health, Canada navigates the evolving landscape of the pandemic.
*Please note that the details provided in this article are based on current information and are subject to change as the situation develops.*