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Effort underway to find more 'appealing' COVID-19 treatment for unvaccinated

Dr. Kieran Moore said this could include a new ‘traditional’ vaccine or therapy using monoclonal antibodies
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Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health said Monday that efforts are underway to find a traditional vaccine or therapeutic treatment that would "appeal" to unvaccinated residents in a bid to reduce the impact on hospitals and to lessen the chance of those people becoming infected with COVID-19 and dying. 

Dr. Kieran Moore was speaking at an online news conference about Ontario's efforts to control the emergence of the newer Omicron Variant of the virus, which has caused significant concern in the public health community.

Kieran was responding to a question about how Ontario plans to deal with the 350,000-plus residents who have not yet had their first dose of the vaccine. 

Many Ontario residents who are vaccine hesitant have suggested that the mRNA Vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) and the viral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca) have not had a sufficient testing period.

Keiran responded that the Ministry of Health is "looking at additional therapeutics" that could be helpful for the individuals who are not vaccinated. He said this would include a new brand of vaccine. 

"We're also looking at newer vaccines,” he said. “So the Novavax vaccine, we believe, is getting reviewed by Health Canada that is not an mRNA, or viral vector vaccine.  It is more of a traditional vaccine.”

Keiran said the idea is to protect the Ontario health system and reduce the impact the virus might have on unvaccinated persons.

"We think that might be appealing to a certain percentage of the population that haven't been vaccinated to date. That is a very effective vaccine as well, from the preliminary randomized control trials," Keiran told reporters. 

"We're also looking at expanding the ability to treat individuals who are unvaccinated with monoclonal antibodies. They're very effective at limiting the hospitalization and or health system impact," he said.

Keiran said conversations are also underway with Health Canada over the review of oral antiviral drugs that are being developed by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Co. Inc, and Pfizer.  

“These could help further protect our health system; help reduce the impact of this virus on those that remain unvaccinated and be important options,” he said. 

Kieran said it is hoped that all the alternative therapeutics would be available sometime in the first quarter of 2022. 

The doctor said he is hoping that future approaches will not be punitive but more in line with providing health-care solutions.

"We're not looking at further public health measures or mandates. We're looking at being able to provide the right care at the right time to the right individuals with good therapies that we know will reduce the impact on the individual, but also on the health system.