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Canada signs agreement with AstraZeneca on preventative COVID-19 treatment

OTTAWA — The Canadian government has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to procure 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 antibody therapy that’s still under review by Health Canada.

A release from Public Services and Procurement Canada says the antibody therapy, called Evusheld, is a pre-exposure preventative for COVID-19.

Evusheld is under review by Health Canada for use in specific high-risk patient populations, such as people who are immunocompromised.

The U.S.-based Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the product in December.

The FDA says the drug is only authorized for people who are not currently infected with COVID-19 and who are either moderately to severely immunocompromised or have a history of severe adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The FDA says one dose of Evusheld, given as two separate intramuscular injections, “may be effective for pre-exposure prevention for six months.”

Health Canada started the authorization process for Evusheld in November after receiving data from AstraZeneca. The agency says it reviews submissions through an independent process and authorizes products based on “scientific rigour and medical evidence.”

Public Services and Procurement Canada says initial deliveries of Evusheld would be expected within a month of authorization.

The Public Health Agency of Canada would then coordinate distribution and delivery with provinces and territories.

Filomena Tassi, Canada’s Minister of Public Services and Procurement, said in a release Wednesday that vaccines continue to be “the most important tool we have against severe outcomes from COVID-19.”

“However, while vaccines provide excellent protection, people who are immunocompromised may need additional protection against COVID-19,” she said.

“That is why our government continues to grow its suite of treatments and preventative therapies to protect the health of everyone who lives in Canada.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2022.

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