Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today sought to reassure Canadians that his government would be ready to roll out the vaccine after they received the necessary approval from Health Canada. This is in response to criticisms of the opposition parties and some premiers that accuse the Liberal government of lagging behind in a vaccine distribution plan.
Trudeau said independent scientists are reviewing clinical trial data submitted by the drug manufacturer to ensure the safety of these products before Ottawa starts shipments.
With recent polls showing that a large number of Canadians will either reject the vaccine entirely or wait a while before the injection, Trudeau said he wants Canadians to be assured that science will not be rushed and Canadian regulators will only approve the product when it works.
The US Food and Drug Administration FDA will meet on December 10 to review Pfizer’s products. Health Canada’s chief medical advisor, Supriya Sharma, said regulators here are expected to make decisions on timelines similar to those followed by the U.S.
Speaking to reporters at a COVID-19 briefing, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today the government is planning for vaccines to arrive in the first three months of 2021.
Anand confirmed that Canada already has received 34 of the freezers needed to store vaccines that must be kept at temperatures well below zero, with another 92 freezers soon to follow. The Pfizer product, for example, needs to be kept at approximately -80 degrees Celsius to remain stable.
All told, between the newly procured cold storage and existing federal capacity, 33.5 million doses of frozen and ultra-frozen vaccines can be stored here at this point, Anand said.
On Monday, Massachusetts-based company Moderna was the second company to have filed an application to the FDA to obtain an emergency use authorization (EUA) of their vaccine in the US market.
The company’s final clinical trial data is encouraging, demonstrating the vaccine is 94.1 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100 percent effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.
The federal government secured an August 5 deal with Moderna for 20 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to purchase an additional 36 million doses if needed.
The government routinely points to hefty orders for 414 million doses of vaccine from seven different companies – the most of any country per capita – but Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole says boosting shopping makes little sense if millions of Canadians wait longer than citizens in other Western countries.
During Tuesday’s questioning session, opposition party leader Erin O’Toole once again urged the government to put a sure day of access to vaccines.
O’Toole also criticized the government for working with CanSino, a Chinese-run pharmaceutical company, during the early stages of the pandemic to jointly develop the vaccine.
That deal was cancelled after the Beijing government blocked shipments of vaccine samples to be used in clinical trials in Canada. This led the government to turn to supply companies in the US. O’Toole said that Canada in the first place should never trust the Chinese.
The Conservative opposition is currently promoting a congressional investigation into the CanSino deal.
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