CPHA issues series of statements on COVID-19: mRNA vaccines

OTTAWA, ON, Jan. 10, 2021 / CNW / – La Dre Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, made the following statement today:

The end of 2020 marked a watershed moment for the Canada in its fight against COVID-19. We saw the Canada approve the first two COVID-19 vaccines – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine – and roll out the initial doses of these vaccines across the country. Knowing that the first Canadians were vaccinated against COVID-19 has given us something positive to build on at the end of a difficult year, and it continues to fuel our hope, strength and determination for the future. year to come.

Now, in early 2021, these newly approved vaccines are a top concern for many Canadians, who are eager to learn more about them. The vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are two mRNA-based vaccines. For many Canadians, this may be the first time you’ve heard of this type of vaccine, and it’s understandable that you have questions. What are mRNA vaccines? More importantly, do they work and are they safe?

Today’s statement aims to answer these important questions by providing the most recent information available to us today. We will examine some of these questions in more detail, as new evidence emerges.

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How vaccines work
Let’s start with the basics of how vaccines work. In short, vaccines help strengthen your immune system against disease and protect you against disease. They teach your immune system to recognize a situation where disease-causing pathogens, such as viruses, enter your body so that your immune system is ready to defend against them, if you are exposed to them later. This defense, or immune response, involves the production of special proteins called antibodies that help destroy the pathogen. In the future, if you are exposed to the same pathogen, your immune system will remember it and destroy it before it can make you sick.

MRNA vaccines
MRNA-based vaccines contain strands of genetic material – mRNA – inside a special coating. This special coating prevents mRNA from being broken down by enzymes in your body. MRNA provides a “set of instructions” for cells in your body to make proteins that look like “spike proteins” that are stuck on the outside of the coronavirus. Your immune system identifies these proteins as the ones that are not usually found in your body and begins to build an immune response by producing antibodies. Once the proteins are produced, the mRNA breaks down and disappears from your cells.

MRNA-based vaccines build on scientific advancements made over decades, including understanding of the structure of mRNA and technological advancements aimed at determining the genetic sequences of viruses. More recent advances in mRNA vaccine technologies have focused on a challenge that lies in the very nature of mRNA – it is very fragile and breaks down very easily outside a cell. Researchers have found that including mRNA in microscopically small capsules of a fat-like substance called lipid nanoparticles helps protect mRNA from being broken down by enzymes in your blood and allows it to be delivered in completely safe to your cells. While this innovation helps prevent the too rapid destruction of mRNA in your body, it does mean that these vaccines must be shipped and stored at ultra-low temperatures to preserve their special formulation.

COVID-19 mRNA vaccine development and regulatory review
For COVID-19, the development of an mRNA vaccine was facilitated by the rapid decoding and sharing of the genetic code SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which was published online in January 2020. This project allowed scientists around the world to start designing vaccines against COVID-19. Within weeks, the vaccines were ready to be tested in animal models, and clinical trials in humans followed in March 2020.

October 9 and 13, Health Canada has received requests from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to allow their vaccines to be used in Canada. Each vaccine authorization request that Health Canada receives is reviewed to ensure that the vaccine is safe, effective and of high quality, and that the benefits outweigh the risks. In addition, Health Canada ensures that vaccines are manufactured in accordance with established international high quality standards (good manufacturing practices).

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Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada also review how the manufacturer will conduct safety monitoring to minimize the identified risks. Manufacturers are required to continue to provide information to Santé Canada on the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine after its deployment. Pfizer and BioNTech, as well as Moderna, will follow clinical trial participants for at least two years after they receive the second dose of the vaccine. For more information on regulatory approval of these vaccines, you can visit the COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments Portal.

Side effects or unwanted effects
As we mentioned in a previous statement, it is quite common to experience mild to moderate side effects (also called side effects) after receiving a vaccine, including pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, fever, and joint and muscle pain. These effects are transient and are the result of your body’s natural reaction when the immune system is activated. Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with provinces and territories, international partners and the manufacturer, will monitor vaccine safety through a number of systems and notify Canadians of any side effects of potential concern.

Maintain public health measures and seek credible sources of information
As vaccines are distributed across the country and the medicine, public health and research communities across the country Canada and around the world continue to actively monitor the emergence and incidence of different strains, it is more crucial than ever to remain vigilant. This means that it is necessary monitor all public health measures – maintain a physical distance, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask and stay at home, even if your symptoms are mild. In addition, although the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been shown to be very effective in preventing COVID-19 and serious consequences, research continues on their effectiveness in preventing transmission of the virus from people. that have been vaccinated to other people.

It is also very important that Canadians continue to ensure that they are using sources reliable and credible when looking for information on COVID-19, including mRNA vaccines. There is a lot of misinformation circulating online, which can easily confuse or mislead Canadians. For more reliable information on COVID-19, the government website of Canada, Canada.ca/le-coronavirus, is a good place to start. You can also find reliable information on the website of your provincial and local health agency, as well as from international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Red Cross.

Looking back on the year 2020, it’s amazing to think of how far we’ve come in terms of our knowledge of COVID-19, as well as collaboration and innovation without previous, both at Canada than internationally, which characterized the response to COVID-19. I know it has been an extremely difficult year for everyone, but I have always been impressed by the collective strength and resilience of Canadians. This has helped motivate me in turn, and I will continue to strive to provide you with factual and evidence-based health information as we journey through 2021 together. Science and research evolve. constantly, and so will our approach to tackling this pandemic.

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SOURCE French Public Health Agency Canada

For further information: Media Relations, Public Health Agency of Canada, 613-957-2983, [email protected]

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