Canada Ready to Start Vaccination as Doses Make Way From Belgium

Canada Ready to Start Vaccination as Doses Make Way From Belgium

Canada will begin its Covid-19 immunization campaign as early as Monday, with 30,000 initial doses of the Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine making their way from Belgium.

Provincial governments are awaiting shots that will be distributed to 14 sites, a sign of progress against a second wave of infections that has killed about 100 people a day in Canada over the past week.

Quebec, which has suffered the majority of Canada’s more than 13,000 virus deaths, said it expects inoculations to start Monday. Ontario is targeting Tuesday and will give priority to health-care workers.

Canada Ready to Start Vaccination as Doses Make Way From Belgium

“In a marathon, the last kilometers are the hardest,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said during a press conference Friday. “We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”

The country of 38 million people is closely following the U.K., which this week became the first nation to roll out the Pfizer vaccine. The U.S. appears close to authorizing emergency use of the shot.

“This is the good news we all needed,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday. “But remember, this is only the first step in what will be a massive project over a long winter.”

‘Fired Up’

“There are going to be some bumps in the road. Please be patient with us. We are going to work through those bumps,” General Rick Hillier, head of Ontario’s vaccine distribution efforts, told reporters. On the ground, health-care workers who will administer the vaccines “are fired up, they can’t wait to start this program,” he said.

Canada, which has secured more doses per person than any other country, has struggled to contain an autumn resurgence of the virus. With intensive care units filling up, provinces were forced to impose fresh lockdown measures that closed restaurants, retailers and churches in many parts of the country. Quebec’s Legault said he’ll decide early next week whether to announce still more restrictions.

Canada’s health authorities warned on Friday that more efforts will be needed to slow the spread of infections as the holidays near.

By Christmas day, deaths in Canada could rise to as many as 14,920, or 39 per 100,000 people, according to new projections released by Trudeau’s government. The ratio is 1.1 per 100,000 for South Korea, 25 for Germany, and 89 for the U.S.

Sanofi Setback

Canada is due to receive 249,000 Pfizer doses by the end of the month. After an initial focus on the most vulnerable residents, the government hopes to get the population covered by the end of next year.

That will depend on approval of other vaccines. Canada has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot. It is currently reviewing three other vaccine candidates, including one by Moderna Inc.

But there have been setbacks. Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, which also have a supply agreement with Canada, said Friday they’re delaying advanced trials of their Covid-19 shot after it failed to produce a strong enough response in older people.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.