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Canada could see more vaccine hurdles while at mercy of other nations, experts warn – Global News

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After a few initial hiccups, COVID-19 vaccine rollout has finally picked up pace in Canada.

As of Wednesday, more than 3.8 million doses had been distributed to provinces and territories across the country. Out of these, 2.5 million doses have been administered, with more than 2 million Canadians having received at least one dose of an approved coronavirus vaccine.

Read more:
COVID-19 vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated?

Between Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, Canada is expected to receive up to 8 million vaccine doses by the end of March.

“Canada is getting ready to go into the ramp-up phase after a steep increase in vaccine availability,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing the country’s vaccine distribution effort, during a news conference Wednesday.

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Between April and June, 25 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine are expected, followed by another 1.5 million from AstraZeneca by mid-May, Fortin added.


Janet Cordahi/Global News Graphics

The influx of vaccines comes after a month-long lull from Pfizer as it went through factory upgrades and a slash in deliveries promised by Moderna.

Some experts warn Canada could see more speed bumps in the weeks and months ahead because it is heavily reliant on the foreign drugmakers and the goodwill of other countries – where the vaccine supplies are coming from.

“We can expect the unexpected,” said Jillian Kohler, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

“We are at the mercy of companies that are outside of our borders and as a result of that, other nations’ interests,” she told Global News.

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Coronavirus: Canada preparing to ‘ramp up’ vaccine distribution


Coronavirus: Canada preparing to ‘ramp up’ vaccine distribution

Where are Canada’s vaccines coming from?

Canada has ordered the world’s highest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses per capita, but none of the shots are being manufactured in the country.

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Pfizer’s doses are coming from their European plant in Belgium, which are shipped via FedEx to the United States before they reach Canada.

Read more:
Johnson & Johnson vaccine approved in Canada. How does it compare to the others?

Moderna’s supplies to Canada come from Switzerland, where the company has set up a secondary production plant, in addition to its U.S. headquarters.

Currently, Canada is receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. Supplies slated for later in the year will come from the U.S. and South Korea as part of the WHO-led COVAX program.

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Meanwhile, there is no timeline set for when the Johnson & Johnson deliveries will arrive, nor is there confirmation on which of its two sites — in Europe and the U.S. — the doses will come from.

The company has already told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “there are challenges around production.”

With many variables at play, Kohler says expected vaccine supplies are not a given and Canada is in a “very precarious and unsafe situation right now.”

“It’s absolutely frightening to think that we don’t have vaccine sovereignty.”

The federal government has faced criticism from opposition parties over its response to the delays in deliveries of vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna in recent weeks, as well as the country’s inability to produce much-needed COVID-19 vaccines at home.


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How would 24-hour vaccination clinics work? Doctor answers your COVID-19 questions


How would 24-hour vaccination clinics work? Doctor answers your COVID-19 questions

Trudeau announced earlier this year a deal with Novavax to produce vaccines at a facility in Montreal, though that will not be operational until towards the end of the year.

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If the vaccine is approved before that, doses will need to be shipped from abroad.

Read more:
Novavax filings give first glimpse of deal Canada made for COVID-19 vaccines

“If vaccines are manufactured in the country, you have a lot more control,” said Dan Breznitz, co-director of the innovation policy lab at the University of Toronto.

Barring any “major catastrophe,” he said the government should be able to meet its September target to vaccinate a majority of Canadians, as more production facilities of vaccines will scale up elsewhere around the globe.

“Let’s hope that there isn’t any massive outbreak out there in Europe, India, the U.S.,” Breznitz added.

‘My nation first approach’

Growing “vaccine protectionism” and political tussles are also at play.

In late January, the European Union implemented a controversial export authorization scheme for COVID-19 vaccines, which requires EU-based vaccine manufacturers to seek approval from the national government, where their doses are produced, before exporting them out of the EU.

Read more:
Denmark, Norway, Iceland temporarily suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine

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In an escalation of a high-profile row between the bloc and Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca over a delay in deliveries, Italy blocked 250,000 doses of their vaccine to Australia last week.

Some say this could possibly have ripple effects in Canada as well.

“If they can do it to Australia, they can do it to us,” said Amir Attaran, a professor of law and public health at the University of Ottawa.


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Coronavirus: Australia asks European Commission to review decision by Italy to block AstraZeneca vaccine shipment


Coronavirus: Australia asks European Commission to review decision by Italy to block AstraZeneca vaccine shipment

Kohler said the “my nation first approach” that has been apparent since the beginning of the pandemic is heightening amid high global demand and a shortage in supply.

She said a “vacuum in terms of global health leadership” has only exacerbated the situation.

However, Timothy Chan, Canada Research Chair in Novel Optimization and Analytics in Health, is not concerned.

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 “If they are blocking only a small number of vaccines or only to specific countries, I think the impact on Canada will be minimal,” he said.

Read more:
One year into COVID-19, a look at when and where the next pandemic could emerge

Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca told Global News they did not anticipate any delays in their vaccine deliveries to Canada.

“We do not feel like we have any cause for concern related to the export of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from Europe,” said Christina Antoniou, director of corporate affairs at Pfizer Canada, in an emailed statement.

Moderna and Johnson & Johnson did not respond to a request from Global News by the time of publication of this story.


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Concerns growing over impact of EU vaccine export controls


Concerns growing over impact of EU vaccine export controls – Feb 1, 2021

The office of the minister of small business, export promotion and international trade also said that the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has given “repeated assurances” that the new EU measures will not affect vaccine shipments to Canada.

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“We will continue to work with the EU and its member states, as we have done throughout the pandemic, to ensure that our essential health and medical supply chains remain open and resilient,” a spokesperson told Global News.

–With files from Global News’ Linda Boyle

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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US will allow Canadians who had mixed doses of COVID-19 vaccines when border crossings resume Nov. 8 – northumberlandnews.com

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Are you planning to get a flu shot this year? – Castanet.net

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Canada’s top doctor warns the country could be heading for its first typical flu season since the pandemic began, even as health systems are still battling the fourth wave of COVID-19.

Last year Canada was spared the brunt of flu season thanks to strict public health measures to protect against COVID-19.

Surveillance data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows higher rates of infection than expected for some of Canada’s most common seasonal viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says a heavy flu season could put extra pressure on already fragile health-care systems.

She says this is definitely not the year to have influenza wreak havoc.

That’s why public health says it will be more important than ever that people get flu shots to avoid complications like pneumonia and protect hospitals from becoming overloaded.

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10,000 in Waterloo region eligible to get 2nd COVID-19 shot right now, official says – CBC.ca

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More than 90 per cent of eligible residents in Waterloo region have had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

People who are 12 and up are eligible to get vaccinated, and able to get the second dose 28 days after the first, the Ontario government’s website says.

“To get second doses to 90 per cent, 20,683 second doses must be given. Out of those 20,000 people, approximately 10,000 are eligible now for their second dose and the remaining people will become eligible over the next month,” Vickie Murray, the region’s vaccine lead, said in a media briefing on Friday.

Murray said regional officials are pleased to see single doses reach the 90 per cent milestone, but they want to see second doses, which are at nearly 86 per cent, get there, too.

“Our goal is to continue to aim for the highest vaccination rates possible to protect our community from the spread of COVID,” she said.

As well, the region has given 5,854 third doses, offered to all people living in long-term care in the region.

Murray also announced Friday that as of Oct. 31, the vaccination at the Boardwalk in Waterloo will move to operating only between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. because those are the busiest times.

Vaccination bus motors on

The vaccination bus continues to be effective, Murray said. On Wednesday, she said 47 per cent of the doses given were first ones.

The bus will maked scheduled stops:

  • Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Cambridge Farmer’s Market.
  • Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 150 Main St. in Cambridge.
  • Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Kitchener Public Library.
  • Thursday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Region of Waterloo International Airport in Breslau.
  • Sunday, Oct. 24 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Sunrise Shopping Centre at 1400 Ottawa St. S., Kitchener.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the region’s medical officer of health, said Friday that case rates have been “stable or slowly decreasing trend in the last few weeks.”

“We need to continue our efforts to increase our community immunity over the coming weeks and months,” she said, adding the highly transmissible delta variant remains a risk in the region and could be easily spread between people, especially the unvaccinated.

Murray encouraged anyone who is eligible to get the second dose to do so as soon as they can.

“That is going to be the best way to ensure that you’re fully vaccinated,” Murray said.

If regional staff find that a lot of people are delaying the second dose, they will reach out to them directly through emails and phone calls — something staff also did over the summer.

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