A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Health Canada extends expiry of thousands of AstraZeneca shots by another month

A Health Canada spokesman says there are 49,000 doses across Canada that were previously set to expire Monday

Health Canada says it is extending the expiry date for thousands of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses by a month.

The federal department says it made the decision to help use up existing doses and stressed the move is backed by scientific evidence.

Health Canada says the vaccine manufacturer made a submission earlier this week which supported extending the expiry date for two lots of vaccine from May 31 to July 1.

It says that submission included “stability and mathematical modelling data” that showed the doses would still be safe and effective for seven months rather than the original six.

A Health Canada spokesman says there are 49,000 doses across Canada that were previously set to expire on Monday.

The extension came as a welcome development in Ontario, where pharmacies were rushing to exhaust stockpiles of AstraZeneca shots and keep them from going to waste before the old May 31 deadline.

“This change will ensure that provinces and territories are able to use up their existing inventory and provide Canadians access to much-needed doses of the vaccine,” Health Canada said in a statement.

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Coronavirusvaccines