A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) booster vaccine targeting BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants is pictured at Skippack Pharmacy in Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, US, Sept 8, 2022. (HANNAH BEIER / REUTERS)
OTTAWA / MOSCOW / WASHINGTON – Canada on Friday authorized updated COVID-19 booster shots from Pfizer Inc and its partner BioNTech SE that target the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, according to the government's website.
Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement the companies will make "significant volumes of the vaccine available in the coming days"
Pfizer and BioNTech said in a joint statement the companies will make "significant volumes of the vaccine available in the coming days".
The booster shot, which has been authorized for people 12 years and older, is the second to get clearance from Health Canada after Moderna Inc's modified booster last month.
Moderna's vaccine booster was cleared for use in adults.
Pfizer, which is seeking approval from US and European health regulators for use of its Omicron-tailored shot in children 5 through 11 years of age, said it was planning a submission to Health Canada for the same age group.
The US Food and Drug Administration authorized updated COVID-19 booster shots from both Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech in August.
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Regulators in the European Union and Japan have also cleared Pfizer's updated booster shot.
Meanwhile, Canada confirmed 18,478 new COVID-19 cases for the week ending Oct 1, the Public Health Agency of Canada said on Friday.
Russia confirmed 22,268 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide tally to 21,163,942, the official monitoring and response center said Friday.
The nationwide death toll increased by 104 to 387,991, while the number of recoveries increased by 39,573 to 20,347,142.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday estimated that by Oct 8 nearly 14% of the circulating coronavirus variants in the United States were of the BA.4.6 subvariant of Omicron.
In the week ending Oct 8, the BA.4.6 subvariant is expected to make up 13.6% of total COVID cases in the US, higher than the 12.7% prevalence last week.
The subvariant has been slowly increasing in prevalence across the US, even as the BA.5 subvariant of Omicron remains the dominant strain with 79.2% of the cases.
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The BA.4.6 subvariant has been found to be better at evading COVID-19 antibody therapies, with the US Food and Drug Administration in early October warning healthcare providers that AstraZeneca's Evusheld had the risk of being ineffective against some variants it cannot neutralize.
According to the FDA's fact sheet, the BA.4.6 subvariant was likely to have more than 1,000-fold reduction in susceptibility to the antibody therapy, based on laboratory tests.