Manitoba’s top doctor says the province is planning to get its hands on a potential COVID-19 vaccine as early as January, but details of what the hugely anticipated vaccine’s rollout would look like, remain scarce.
On Wednesday Dr. Brent Roussin said provincial health officials are working with their federal partners and a special advisory committee to look at who would be first eligible for the vaccine should it become available, but couldn’t yet say how many doses they’re hoping to get.
A provincial spokesperson later said officials have received an early estimate on the number of doses, but added it’s too “preliminary and premature” to say more.
“We will have more information to share with Manitobans in the near future, including priority populations for immunization and our plans to deliver and administer the vaccines allocated to our province,” the spokesperson said in an email to Global News.
Earlier in the day Wednesday, Ontario’s health minister suggested Canada could start receiving millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine as soon as January.
Christine Elliott said in question period that the country is set to get four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine between January and March as well as two million doses of Moderna’s vaccine. of those, she said, 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 of the Moderna vaccine are destined for Ontario.
Pfizer announced Wednesday it intends to seek approval for emergency use of its novel coronavirus vaccine after new test results showed it is 95 per cent effective, is safe, and works to protects vulnerable older adults.
Earlier this week Moderna, Inc. announced that its experimental vaccine appears to be 94.5per cent effective after an interim analysis of its late-stage study.
In Alberta, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Twitter that the province is expecting its per capita share of 465,000 doses from Pfizer and 221,000 from Moderna, with the first shipments to arrive early in the new year.
When asked directly to confirm the dates and numbers, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu would only say it was “really exciting” that Canada is well-positioned to receive millions of doses from both companies.
“There are a number of steps to go through before we actually get to the point of distribution, including the regulatory review with Health Canada to ensure the safety of both vaccines,” Hajdu told reporters.
Hajdu said both Pfizer and Moderna had also submitted for approval in Canada, which she said will allow regulators to receive and review data as it comes in.
Back in Manitoba, Roussin said he expects the province could receive a “low quantity” of a potential vaccine at the beginning of next year and those at high risk would be most likely to receive shots initially.
“We should look at the vaccine with optimism, but again, it’s not going to be that early fix to the pandemic,” he said.
“We’re going to be dealing with this virus for many, many more months — another year.”
–With files from Global’s Brittany Greenslade and The Canadian Press
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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