Omicron-targeted vaccine ‘less than two weeks’ away: Quebec health director

Canadians are still awaiting government approval of an Omicron-specific COVID-19 booster shot — but one provincial health official is hinting the wait could soon be over.

Quebec’s health director Dr. Luc Boileau said Wednesday that the bivalent vaccine should be available for Quebecers in less than two weeks and would immediately replace older-generation vaccines once it becomes available.

“It will be simple: when the new vaccine arrives, we will not use up the existing stocks we have of current vaccines,” Boileau said. “We’ll just move on.”

The comments come before Health Canada has publicly revealed any timeline on when the new shots could be approved. The Canadian Press reports they reached out to the federal agency for comment on Wednesday but they were not available to respond.


The proposed bivalent vaccines are designed to recognize specific mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron BA. 1 subvariant. The shots target both the original strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.

Moderna revealed this week it will supply Canada with 12 million doses of its Omicron-targeted COVID-19 vaccine when it gets approved by Health Canada.

The company’s trial data showed that when given as a fourth dose, its variant-adapted booster raised antibodies by eight-fold against Omicron. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said the early data is looking good, saying “Moderna’s vaccine demonstrates superior antibody response against Omicron.”

A supply deal signed last year between Moderna and the federal government allows for access to new vaccine adaptations.

Pfizer also has an Omicron-specific vaccine being reviewed by Health Canada and those boosters are expected to be approved and ready for arms sometime in the fall.

The United Kingdom approved the shot last week, becoming the first country in the world to authorize a shot that protects against two different variants.

Officials hope Omicron jab will increase booster uptake

NACI says they are hopeful the approval of the “bivalent” shots will improve uptake of boosters for Canadians, which has fallen off since early 2022.

In Ontario, residents need to be at least three months removed from their previous booster to be eligible for the next shot. Meaning anyone who gets a shot now will need to would need to wait several months should the Omicron-targeted vaccine be approved in the coming weeks.

In addition, the province recommends an interval of five months, or 140 days, between doses, despite the minimum interval being only 84 days.

Ontario opened up bookings for a second COVID booster to all adults in July, at the time the province’s top doctor noted people who don’t have underlying health conditions could choose to wait for the fall when vaccines specifically targeting the Omicron variant may become available.

Boileau also said Wednesday that Quebec is advancing the schedule for booster doses, allowing residents as young as 18 to book appointments immediately. All Quebecers 18 and over are eligible for a booster if it’s been at least five months since their last dose — or three months since their last COVID-19 infection.

Recent data from Health Canada shows more than 40 per cent of Canadians have yet to receive a third dose.

With files from The Canadian Press

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