February 27, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On February 26, after a thorough, independent review of the evidence for safety, efficacy and quality requirements, Health Canada authorized the third and fourth COVID-19 vaccines for use in Canada. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in partnership with Oxford University and the Serum Institute of India version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is sponsored in Canada by Verity Pharmaceuticals Inc. These are the first viral vector COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized for use in Canada.
As of February 26, close to 1.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial authorities are working closely together to monitor vaccine safety following immunization with COVID-19 vaccines. To date, based on data up to February 19th, there have been 1,235 reports of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with COVID-19 vaccines; these include any medical event that occurs following immunization, but is not necessarily related to the vaccine or the immunization process. A total of 167 AEFI reports to date – about 1 in 9,000 doses administered – were considered serious, such as a severe allergic reaction. All adverse events are subject to review. All serious events undergo a detailed investigation to determine whether or not they are related to the use of the vaccine. Information that indicates a potential link between the use of a vaccine and a previously unknown health event, or a health event with incomplete information, is considered a safety signal, which warrants appropriate action from the regulator. To date, no unexpected vaccine safety issues have been identified.
As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country.
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 861,472 cases of COVID-19, including 21,915 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. As well, the emergence and spread of certain SARS-CoV-2 virus variants is an additional cause for concern. For the week of February 14-20, there were an average of 97,120 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.2% were positive for COVID-19. As of February 25, a total of 1,010 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including 964 B.1.1.7 variants, 44 B.1.351 variants and 2 P.1 variant.