By: Terry Haig
As new modelling paints a grim picture of where Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic is headed, the country’s already sluggish efforts to get vaccines out to Canadians suffered a jolt today.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced that production issues in Europe will temporarily reduce Pfizer’s-BioNTech’s ability to deliver vaccines to Canada. (Pfizer-BioNTech also announced it was reducing deliveries to Europe.)
Her announcement comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that Canada had reached an agreement to purchase another 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
So far, Canada has received about 380,000 doses of the vaccine.
It was was supposed to get another 400,000 this month and was expecting almost two million doses in February and a total of four million doses by the end of March
Anand said those numbers are no longer guaranteed.
Over all–a month into the inoculation efforts–barely one per cent of the population has received at least one shot of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
As of Thursday, only 615,000 doses had been delivered to the provinces and territories.
Anand’s announcement came as the Public Health Agency of Canada released models that showed Canada’s COVID-19 cases on a “rapid growth trajectory.”
The models projected that if Canadians simply maintain the current level of contact they have with people outside their households, case counts will also rise to roughly from the current 7,900 a day to 13,000 a day.
And, the models suggest, the number of daily COVID-19 cases could more than triple to 30,000 if people increase their contacts at a time when there’s widespread community transmission.
The models showed said that–based on current case counts–roughly 2,000 more people could die over the next 10 days and as many as 100,000 more people could contract the virus over the same period.
“Quick, strong and sustained measures are needed to interrupt rapid growth and maintain COVID-19 control,” PHAC said in its report.
“Reducing COVID-19 activity is urgently needed as rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines begins.”
The projections came a day after the military commander leading Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine logistics, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, pulled no punches in his assessment of the vaccine rollout.
“We have a scarcity of vaccines in the first quarter,” Fortin said, telling reporters, the federal government is expecting up to six million doses — enough for three million people to be fully vaccinated using the Pfizer and Moderna two-dose products–by the end of March but conceding that a delivery schedule is still be negotiated.
Fortin said that manufacturers are expected to deliver up to one million doses a week starting in April when the country will shift from immunizing particularly vulnerable people–such as long-term care home residents, some Indigenous adults and health care providers–to a wider rollout.
As of Thursday night, there had been 688,891 COVID-19 cases reported in Canada. Of those, 17,538 were fatal.
By: Terry Haig