Take the first COVID-19 vaccine available, infectious disease specialist recommends
OTTAWA -- As Ottawa and Ontario prepare to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations, an infectious disease specialist suggests you take the first available dose of the COVID-19 vaccine instead of worrying about the efficacy rate.
"Currently, there's a huge shortage and I think that at this point in time the people should really just get what becomes available," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch during an interview on CTV News at Six, noting all four approved vaccines will help prevent hospitalizations and death.
On Friday, Health Canada approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The single-shot dose is approved for adults over the age of 18 and has an efficacy rate of 66.9 per cent.
"It looks like a very effective vaccine," said Dr. Bogoch on Saturday evening.
"It's a single dose shot, which makes the logistics so much easier. It also doesn't require any deep freeze cold storage, so this is something that can be easily and rapidly be administered in places like primary care clinics, mass vaccine centres and pharmacies."
The federal government has a deal in place for 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the option to purchase 28 million more.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has an efficacy rate of 62 per cent, clinical trials found the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has an efficacy rate of 94 per cent, and Pfizer has an efficacy rate of 95 per cent.
During an interview on CTV News at Six, anchor Stefan Keyes asked Dr. Bogoch if people should be focusing on efficacy rates when they do get the vaccine.
"A lot is being made of that, but I think it's not entirely a fair comparison," said Dr. Bogoch.
"Remember some of the Moderna, the Pfizer vaccines were tested in an era where there weren't that many circulating variants of concern. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca were tested in an era where there was tonnes of circulating variants of concern. So, while there is a difference in the efficacy, I think the playing field's more level than what those numbers suggest."
Dr. Bogoch says while one might be more effective than the other, it shouldn't be the main focus right now.
"Quite frankly we're in the middle of a public health crisis, all of the vaccines will significantly reduce the risk of infection, they'll all reduce the chances of having serious infection and death – so that means all of them are an excellent choice," said Bogoch.
"Once we've protected the most vulnerable populations, and we have a bit of a time to breathe, yah maybe we can look at the next dose, the booster shot, the updated shot to account for the variants, maybe we can selectively choose those.
"For now; stop the death, stop the illness and any of these vaccines will do that."
The city of Ottawa opened the first community vaccination pop-up clinic for Ottawa residents over the age of 80 on Friday. Ontario released a new detailed list Friday of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 2 this spring.
Keyes asked Dr. Bogoch if Canadians should have a choice on what shot they receive right now.
"Currently there's a huge shortage and I think that at this point in time the people should really just get what becomes available," said Bogoch.
"Maybe later on, when there's a tonne of vaccine in the country, maybe then people might have the option to choose. For now, I think what's available it's a great idea to get, because all the vaccines that we have are very helpful in preventing serious infection and hospitalization and death."