Trudeau’s Vaccine Plan Targets Shots for Majority by September
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said widespread vaccination against Covid-19 will begin early in 2021, and is expected to inoculate a majority of Canadians by this time next year.
The government unveiled the first steps of its plan Friday, amid fierce criticism of Trudeau’s revelation earlier in the week that Canada won’t be first in line for an eventual vaccine because of a lack of local manufacturing capacity. A top general has been named to oversee the country’s biggest-ever immunization effort.
“What really matters is when we get across the finish line,” Trudeau told reporters outside his residence in Ottawa. “The fact that the doctors highlighted that if all goes according to plan, we should be able to have a majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September puts us in very good stead.”
An initial supply of doses should be available in early 2021, the prime minister said, with more to follow later in the year. Major-General Dany Fortin will lead vaccine logistics, with the military supporting a national task force within the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Canada has signed supply deals for five different shots in the final stages of testing, securing multiple doses for its population of 38 million people and putting it 13th among 53 nations in Bloomberg’s coronavirus resiliency index. “When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready,” Trudeau said.
New cases of Covid-19 are exceeding 5,000 a day across the country amid warnings they could quadruple. The financial capital of Toronto and one of its suburbs entered a new lockdown this week, and Ontario -- the biggest province by population -- posted a record 1,855 cases Friday. Oil-producing Alberta banned indoor gatherings and partially shut down schools this week, with businesses already largely closed in Quebec, the second-biggest province.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford was blunt in his criticism of the prime minister before Friday’s announcement.
“We can’t have our U.S. neighbors getting vaccines and Canada waiting two or three months as their economy starts taking off when they have the vaccine and we’re sitting back, twiddling our thumbs, wondering when we’re going to get it,” Ford told reporters in Toronto on Thursday.
Trudeau said Fortin, a former commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization mission in Iraq, would be key in helping plan for the cold-storage requirements of promising vaccines being developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giants Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.
“Canada is well-prepared for large-scale roll outs of vaccines, but this will be the largest immunization in the history of the country,” the prime minister said. “We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine no matter where they live.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.