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Quebec’s immunization committee issued its guidance Tuesday on Medicago’s Covifenz vaccine, saying established mRNA vaccines such as those made by Pfizer and Moderna have been shown to be more effective.

The Canadian-made recombinant protein vaccine is the only plant-based vaccine against COVID-19 on the market, but it has struggled to find takers.

Health Canada authorized Covifenz in February for adults 18 to 64, but the World Health Organization did not accept its application for emergency use because cigarette company Philip Morris has one-fifth ownership of Medicago. The WHO has since said it is reviewing its policies.

The Quebec Health Department said in a statement Tuesday the Pfizer and Moderna shots are preferable “because of accumulated experience showing that they have a slightly higher efficacy in most situations,” adding the available data suggests Covifenz could be used in certain situations.

The committee recommends the two-dose vaccine be used for those aged 18 to 64 who are unable to get an mRNA vaccine or have fears about using them.

Health officials said Covifenz doses are expected to be available in late May. In the meantime, the Novavax Nuvaxovid vaccine, a two-dose protein subunit vaccine that does not use mRNA technology, is also an alternative.

Quebec is reporting 18 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus and a 61-patient rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Health officials said today there are 2,281 people hospitalized with the disease after 200 people were admitted to hospital in the past 24 hours and 139 were discharged.

There are 101 patients in intensive care, a rise of six.

The Health Department says 10,636 health-care workers are off the job for COVID-19-related reasons.

Officials are reporting 1,783 new COVID-19 cases detected by PCR testing, which is reserved for certain high-risk groups.

They say 14.7 per cent of COVID-19 tests analyzed came back positive.

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