Ontario waits for national guidance as B.C. pushes ahead with delayed second dose News Staff

VANCOUVER — Ontario is waiting for a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization before delaying second doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while British Columbia is pushing ahead with its plan to extend the interval to four months.

B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday the decision was based on local and international evidence that shows the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines provides “miraculous” 90 per cent protection from the virus.

Henry said she was expecting a statement from the national advisory committee that would align with the province’s decision, while Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday she wanted to wait for such a recommendation.

Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the national committee, said in an email the group expected to issue a statement on extending the dose interval on Wednesday, but she did not confirm it would align with B.C.’s plan.

Alberto Martin, a University of Toronto immunology professor, says a published clinical trial showed the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided 60 per cent protection, but B.C. may have access to new or unpublished data.

He says there is “obviously some concern” about B.C.’s plan because he is not aware of any clinical trial that examined a four-month gap between doses, but difficult times — when the vaccine supply is so limited — require drastic measures. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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