Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that several hundreds of thousands of doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Canada before the end of the year – shots intended primarily for long-term care home residents and staff working there.
Trudeau said as many as 249,000 doses of the two-dose vaccine will be on hand by the end of the year to launch a mass vaccination campaign, which is expected to take several months to complete.
The first doses will arrive as some provinces – notably Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec – struggle with a sharp increase in the number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus.
Trudeau said these doses will be delivered by the company directly to 14 distribution centers now equipped with the necessary cold storage. Trudeau said the vaccine should be stored at -80 ° C – which would make distribution logistics “incredibly complex”.
Vaccines will be distributed to jurisdictions on a per capita basis, which means that each county and territory will receive vaccine doses in numbers proportional to its share of the population.
While the first batch of vaccines that arrived is relatively small, Trudeau said this shipment will give provinces and territories an opportunity to work through any kinks in the supply chain before the expected arrival of millions of additional doses in the first three months of 2021.
“This is the largest vaccine mobilization in Canadian history, and the ability to start with a small number and scale quickly as the flow of vaccine doses starts to increase very quickly – that’s a good thing,” Trudeau said.
The announcement comes a day after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced to CBC News that the two companies are ready to ship their vaccine doses to Canada within 24 hours of regulatory approval. Trudeau said the first shots should arrive next week, if Health Canada gives the product the green light.
Dr Supriya Sharma, chief medical advisor at Health Canada, said her management could approve the Pfizer product as soon as this week. This timeline roughly aligns with US regulators’ plans to approve the vaccine.
With recent polls showing that a large number of Canadians say they will reject the vaccine altogether, or wait a while before they line up for a single dose, Trudeau said he wants Canadians to be reassured that the science will not be rushed and that Canadian regulators will only agree to Products that work.
“The regulatory process is under way and the experts are working around the clock. They will support the globally recognized Canadian gold standard for medical approvals,” Trudeau said.
Major General. Danny Fortin, the military commander who leads Canada’s Public Health Agency’s National Operations Center on vaccine logistics, will lead the first planned “dry runs” with provinces and territories today to come up with the best way to deal with the highly sensitive temperatures of a vaccine.
Fortin said healthcare professionals can start administering Pfizer injections “a day or two” after they reach our shores.
During a press conference earlier Monday, Conservative Leader Irene O’Toole accused the government of undermining confidence in COVID-19 vaccines by failing to keep Canadians informed of the process.
“Information on the epidemic is a crucial tool, and the secrecy of the Trudeau government is leading to more ambiguity, confusion and distrust at a time when we see the cancellation of Christmas celebrations,” he said.
Later in the day, lawmakers will vote on a conservative proposal calling on the government to present a detailed plan to deploy the vaccine.
Vote today to propose a vaccine plan
Movement calls for status update on:
- How each type of vaccine will be safely delivered, stored, and distributed to Canadians.
- The date when each type of vaccine will be deployed for the first time in Canada and the expected rate of vaccinations by month.
- Any planned federal directives regarding vaccine deployment by priority group, such as frontline health workers and the elderly.
- Vaccine distribution plan to Indigenous communities, Canadian Armed Forces, and veterans.
Today’s press conference also comes before the first cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday. Trudeau is expected to speak with prime ministers on issues such as the vaccine rollout and federal health transfers. The prime ministers are pushing for a $ 28 billion annual increase in health financing.
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