FILE - DeMarcus Hicks, a recent graduate of nursing school who is working as a contractor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, gives a person a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, Dec. 20, 2021, on the first day of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Federal Way, Wash. U.S. health officials’ decision to shorten the recommended COVID-19 isolation and quarantine period from 10 days to five is drawing criticism from some medical experts and could create confusion among many Americans. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE - DeMarcus Hicks, a recent graduate of nursing school who is working as a contractor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, gives a person a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, Dec. 20, 2021, on the first day of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Federal Way, Wash. U.S. health officials’ decision to shorten the recommended COVID-19 isolation and quarantine period from 10 days to five is drawing criticism from some medical experts and could create confusion among many Americans. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Health Canada decision on Pfizer antiviral close

Health Canada’s chief medical adviser says a decision on Pfizer’s antiviral treatment for COVID-19 is expected in seven to 10 days.

But Supriya Sharma says the department reached out to Pfizer asking for shipments of the drug before approval, using regulations that allow medications approved elsewhere to be used in Canada when there is an urgent health need.

Sharma says the company said no because it didn’t have any supply to send.

Canada has a contract to buy one million doses of Paxlovid but Pfizer spokeswoman Christina Antoniou says information on shipments to Canada won’t be provided until Health Canada approves the drug.

The United States and the United Kingdom approved the antiviral in December and several Canadian doctors want Canada to immediately give the drug the go ahead here as the surging Omicron variant strains hospitals yet again.

Sharma says Pfizer’s initial submission to Canada for approval on Dec. 1 was incomplete and more data was still coming in within the last week but she expects a decision will be made as early as next week.