After months of mostly bad news, Canada’s chief public health officer said today the country’s COVID-19 trajectory has improved dramatically and an anticipated flood of doses should put the country “on the path back to the things we miss.”
As of Friday, Canada was averaging about 1,500 new cases a day — an 80 percent decline from two months ago and a number comparable to the caseload reported in mid-October, before the deadly winter surge, according to data provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Since peaking in mid-April, new cases, hospitalizations and deaths nationwide have drastically declined.
Over 27.7 million vaccine doses have been administered across Canada and 2.6 million doses were given in the past week alone, Dr. Theresa Tam said.
About 72 percent of all Canadians over the age of 12 have been partially vaccinated and 11.8 percent have had both doses.
“As Canada steps into the vaccination fast lane, there is a lot for us to take pride in,” Dr. Tam said.
“We’re in a good position,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Dr. Tam’s deputy. “I believe the case curve is now moving downwards and, if we keep up with vaccinations and public health measures, I believe the curve will continue to descend.”
According to data collated by the University of Oxford-based Our World in Data, Canada now ranks first globally in terms of the number of people who have had at least one dose of the vaccine, having surpassed previous leader Israel yesterday.
About 63.6 percent of all Canadians — a metric that counts all people in the country, including those younger than 12 who are not yet eligible for a shot — now have some sort of vaccine coverage. That’s marginally better than the 63.2 percent reported in Israel.
But Canada lags other countries when it comes to getting the second “booster” shots into arms. “Of course, we want the two doses faster,” Dr. Tam said.
Meanwhile, More Moderna shots are set to arrive next week than the company delivered in the first three months of this year. Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at PHAC, said 2.9 million of the seven million shots will arrive next week, with the remainder expected over the week of June 21.
Along with 2.4 million doses from Pfizer, Canada will have more than 5.3 million mRNA doses will be delivered to provinces and territories next week alone — a figure that should supercharge the country’s immunization campaign.
With so many eligible Canadians already vaccinated with at least one dose, the focus will shift now to administering booster shots to build immunity as the highly infectious Delta variant — the strain that was first identified in India — begins to circulate in many communities.
Dr. Tam said getting just one shot isn’t enough to let Canadians go back to doing all the pre-pandemic things they miss because the booster shot is needed to build substantial immunity against COVID-19.
Joelle Paquette, the director-general responsible for vaccine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, also provided some promising news to AstraZeneca recipients Friday.
According to her, the company has confirmed one million doses of that product will arrive during the week of June 28. While those doses have been promised for some time, the government has been unable to offer a firm delivery timeline before now.
While the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said Canadians can mix-and-match vaccines, this AstraZeneca shipment will help inoculate some of the 2 million Canadians who already have received a shot of that product.
Meanwhile, the 310,000 Johnson & Johnson doses that Canada has in its possession face an uncertain future. Doses of this one-shot product have been sitting in storage for weeks while Health Canada verifies the product’s safety.
Workers at Emergent BioSolutions, a Maryland-based company that was manufacturing that product, inadvertently ruined 15 million doses of the J&J vaccine by mixing up materials intended for the production of AstraZeneca shots.
U.S. regulators today told J&J that about 60 million doses made at that troubled factory cannot be used because of possible contamination. Canada’s supply of doses, which were made at the Emergent plant, will be kept out of the supply chain, for now, Paquette said.
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