Canada may roll out Covid vaccines next week
The first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine could be available in Canada as early as next week if there is approval from the regulatory authorities.
Facing criticism over delay in procuring vaccines, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that 249,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be available before the end of December and targeted at the most vulnerable, such as the residents of care homes and health care workers.
The vaccines could be made available as early as next week, depending on approval from Health Canada. That department’s chief medical officer, Dr Supriya Sharma, has said it may be possible this very week. “The regulatory process needs to be as rigorous as it always is. There are no corners cut by Health Canada in terms of approving a vaccine for safe use by Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“This is the largest mobilisation of vaccines in Canada’s history,” Trudeau said during a news conference, adding that it was a “good thing” that the country will start with a small sample and then “rapidly scale up as the flow of vaccine doses starts increasing.”
His government is already facing a motion in the House of Commons related to the tardy nature of the vaccine roll-outplan for Canada.
According to a recent survey from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, the government has lost 10% of its approval ratings over its handling of the vaccine issue, going down to 56%.
The Pfizer vaccine has to be delivered in two doses and brings with it logistical challenges, having to be stored at temperatures ranging between -80 degree Celsius and -60 degree C.
While 14 distribution centres for the vaccine have been identified for the vaccine, it will not reach the country’s backward Arctic regions, with its indigenous populations, due to the storage and delivery challenges.
About four million more doses are expected to arrive in Canada within the first quarter of next year.