'62 per cent effectiveness is still better than zero': Ottawa's top doctor addresses concerns about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy
OTTAWA -- Ottawa's top doctor says any COVID-19 vaccine that's "effective and safe" will be used as soon as it is approved and arrives in the capital.
Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches is also addressing concerns about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine compared to others, saying, "62 per cent effectiveness is still better than zero per cent."
On Friday, Health Canada approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Canada. In an interview with CTV Question's Period airing Sunday, Health Canada's Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said the agency is in the "final stages" of reviewing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and it could join the country's arsenal within weeks.
Dr. Etches says the approval of more vaccines will help officials in Ottawa and Ontario vaccinate more residents this spring and summer.
"We will want to use any vaccine that's, again, effective and safe and approved as soon as it comes. And if we get more types of vaccine, it means the proportion of the population that's immune before the summer could go up significantly," said Dr. Etches.
"It would allow us to then evaluate and see are we preventing those hospitalizations and the deaths and do we feel more comfortable that transmission is under control in the community. Maybe we can proceed for greater social gatherings, a little bit more of the things that we need in our lives."
The AstraZeneca vaccine has already faced questions about its efficacy. Health Canada said receiving two doses of the vaccine is between 59 and 62 per cent effective. Pfizer-BioNTech has said its vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective after two doses.
During an interview on CTV News at Six, anchor Christina Succi asked Dr. Etches about people doubting the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine compared to other available doses.
"I think that we need to use all the COVID vaccines that are safe and have effectiveness that we can at this point" said Dr. Etches Saturday evening, nothing 62 per cent efficacy is similar to the annual flu vaccine.
"We know that compares to other vaccines we have, like the annual influenza vaccine is sometimes only around that level of effectiveness. So you know, the more protection that we can add in to the population and build immunity at this point, the better."
Ottawa has received 61,820 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines since early December. As of Friday, 49.125 first and second doses of the vaccines had been administered to Ottawa residents.
Ottawa Public Health will release details Monday on how residents over the age of 80 in high-risk areas can book appointments to receive a COVID-19 shot starting March 5.
With files from CTV Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello