Canada surpassed 15,000 COVID-19 deaths on Monday, and at least one infectious disease expert says the somber milestone should be a wake-up call to anyone who thinks the dangers of the disease are overhyped.
Reaching more than 15,000 deaths in the nine months since the pandemic began highlights just how serious COVID-19 is, said Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the infectious diseases division at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.
Canada had earlier surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 deaths on Oct. 27 and passed the 5,000 mark on May 12.
“We are seeing exactly what’s being seen around the world, which is that there are substantially large numbers of deaths from this virus. It’s not the flu,” Evans said in an interview on Monday.
“I would hope that it would reinforce to these people who are saying that it’s a big hype,” he said. “It’s not a hype. People are dying from this. This is a deadly disease.”
Quebec reported 37 deaths Monday, pushing Canada past 15,000. Health officials in that province said seven deaths took place in the last 24 hours, 27 occurred between Dec. 21 and Dec. 26, and three were from unspecified dates.
Quebec also reported 2,265 new cases of COVID-19 — the second day in a row the province recorded more than 2,200 new infections.
“The situation is critical in hospitals,” Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted Monday, urging Quebecers to respect a provincewide lockdown over the holiday period.
The province has 1,124 COVID-19 hospitalizations, including 150 people in intensive care, and officials warned that many hospitals were full.
Manitoba reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and nine additional deaths linked to the virus, increasing the provincial total to 654 deaths since the pandemic began.
Nunavut reported one new infection in Whale Cove, a community that went into lockdown on Christmas Eve. The territory now has nine active cases of COVID-19.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, while New Brunswick said one new infection was detected in the Fredericton area.
After a break in reporting, authorities in Nova Scotia also said they had identified 13 new cases of COVID-19 since Dec. 25. The new infections are all linked to close contact with a previous case or to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.
Officials in N.L. said one of the new infections related to international travel, while the other is a man who returned from working in Alberta.
The province had 19 active cases of COVID-19 with one person in hospital.
New Brunswick had 33 active cases, including three hospitalizations.
“Non-essential travel is very risky right now,” New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said in a statement.
“We are seeing more travel-related cases and transmission to household members when self-isolation measures are not strictly adhered to,” Russell said, calling on people who need to self-isolate to do so for the full 14 days as per public health directives.
Ontario was not reporting new COVID-19 case numbers on Monday after registering 2,005 new infections on Sunday, as well as 18 more deaths.
The province also reported over the weekend new cases of a more contagious strain of the virus in a couple in Durham Region, east of Toronto. The variant, first seen in the U.K., has also been found in Ottawa and the Vancouver Island area of B.C.
Public Health Ontario announced Sunday that the Durham couple had been in contact with someone who recently returned from the U.K.
The other two cases in Ottawa and B.C. are also related to U.K. travel, public health officials said.
The Public Health Agency of Canada said while early data suggests the new variant may be more transmissible, there is no evidence the variant causes more severe symptoms or impacts vaccine effectiveness.
— With files from Denise Paglinawan in Toronto, Sarah Smellie in St. John’s and Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2020.
Mayor Tory discusses stay-at-home order enforcement, Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delay – CityNews Toronto
Trudeau speaks to Pfizer CEO as delays to vaccine shipments get worse – BNN
OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla by phone Thursday, the same day the company informed Canada delays to its shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are going to be even worse than previously thought.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander now overseeing the vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said last week a factory expansion at Pfizer’s Belgium plant was going to slow production, cutting Canada’s deliveries over four weeks in half.
In exchange, Pfizer expects to be able to ship hundreds of millions more doses worldwide over the rest of 2021.
Tuesday, Fortin said Canada would receive 80 per cent of the previously expected doses this week, nothing at all next week, and about half the promised deliveries in the first two weeks of February.
Today, I spoke with the CEO of Pfizer Global, Dr. Bourla, about the timely delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada. He assured me that we’ll receive 4 million doses by the end of March. We’ll keep working together to ensure Canadians can get a vaccine as soon as possible.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 22, 2021
Thursday, he said the doses delivered in the first week of February will only be 79,000, one one-fifth of what was once expected. Fortin doesn’t know yet what will come the week after, but overall, Canada’s doses over three weeks are going to be just one-third of what had been planned.
Trudeau has been under pressure to call Bourla, as the delayed doses force provinces to cancel vaccination appointments and reconsider timing for second doses.
Fortin said some provinces may be hit even harder than others because of limits on the way the Pfizer doses can be split up for shipping. The vaccine is delicate and must be kept ultra frozen until shortly before injecting it. The company packs and ships specialized coolers, with GPS thermal trackers, directly to provincial vaccine sites.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said earlier this week he doesn’t blame the federal government for the dose delays but wanted Trudeau to do more to push back about it.
“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes … I’d be on that phone call every single day. I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” he said of Pfizer’s executives.
Trudeau informed Ford and other premiers of the call with Bourla during a regular teleconference to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic. Until Thursday, all calls between the federal cabinet and Pfizer had been handled by Procurement Minister Anita Anand.
Ford also spoke to Pfizer Canada CEO Cole Pinnow Wednesday.
Trudeau didn’t suggest the call with Bourla made any difference to the delays, and noted Canada is not the only country affected.
Europe, which on the weekend thought its delayed doses would only be for one week after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen spoke to Bourla, now seems poised to be affected longer. Italy is so angry it is threatening to sue the U.S.-based drugmaker for the delays.
Mexico said this week it is only getting half its expected shipment this week and nothing at all for the next three weeks. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also reported delays getting doses. Pfizer Canada spokeswoman Christina Antoniou said more countries were affected but wouldn’t say which ones.
Fortin said Pfizer has promised to deliver four million doses to Canada by the end of March and that is not going to change with the delay. With the current known delivery schedule, the company will have to ship more than 3.1 million doses over 7 1/2 weeks to meet that commitment.
Deliveries from Moderna, the other company that has a COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, are not affected. Canada has received about 176,000 doses from Moderna to date, with deliveries arriving every three weeks.
Moderna has promised two million doses by the end of March.
Both vaccines require first doses and then boosters several weeks later for full effectiveness. Together Pfizer and Moderna intend to ship 20 million doses to Canada in the spring, and 46 million between July and September. With no other vaccines approved, that means Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate the entire population with two doses by the end of September.
Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delays worsen, deliveries see more than 60-per-cent cut so far – The Globe and Mail
Provinces will not get a per-capita share of COVID-19 vaccine doses while the country grapples with a dramatic slowdown in shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech that continues to worsen.
Major-General Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s vaccine logistics, told reporters Thursday the delivery from Pfizer for the week of Feb. 1 will be cut to just 79,000 doses, amounting to a 79-per-cent drop. On Tuesday, he said Canada will get none of the 208,650 doses originally expected next week.
Last week, Maj.-Gen. Fortin said the country’s shipments from Pfizer would drop by 50 per cent over a four-week period and the company would make up the missed deliveries by the end of March. On Thursday, he said Pfizer has not yet disclosed what Canada’s shipment will be the week of Feb. 8, but so far the drop in deliveries amounts to a more than 60-per-cent cut.
“Despite this bump on the road, Pfizer continues to assure us that they’re on track to meet the total allocation of four million doses to Canada by the end of March,” Maj.-Gen. Fortin said.
Experts say the slowdown will have a double impact: in the short term, risking the ability of provinces to deliver the second shot on time, and in the long term, forcing a more cautious approach in the vaccine rollout as they hold back more vaccine to create a buffer against future delivery interruptions.
Last week Pfizer said it needed to slow production to retool its Belgian manufacturing plant. The company said the temporary slowdown would allow it to nearly double production capacity. The federal government initially said all countries would be equally affected by the slowdown, but Pfizer announced later that the supply to the European Union would return to normal on Jan. 25.
Late Thursday, the Prime Minister announced on Twitter that he had spoken with Albert Bourla, the chief executive officer of the American multinational. He said he spoke about the “timely delivery” of vaccines.
Other world leaders have said they are in direct contact with him.
Last week, the Public Health Agency of Canada told The Globe and Mail the slowdown would hit Canada between Jan. 25 and Feb. 21. On Thursday, it said it would instead affect Canada’s shipments between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14.
This week Canada had a 9 per cent cut to its deliveries, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Maj.-Gen. Fortin said the overall drop is minimal, but due to “shipping decisions made by the manufacturer,” some provinces would have a more severe impact.
Its on-the-ground implications have not yet been communicated to provinces. In an e-mailed statement, a spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ivana Yelich, said the province needs the details “sooner rather than later so we can make further adjustments to our vaccine rollout plan after multiple changes to distribution numbers over a few short days.”
Mr. Ford told reporters Thursday he had spoken with the CEO of Pfizer Canada and told him, “Pfizer has let us down.” The Premier is hoping Pfizer will ship some of the doses from its Michigan plant north, but the first 100 million doses from that plant have already been promised to the United States.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said he has been in touch with Pfizer executives, but he wouldn’t disclose who and his office would only say they are outside the country.
With reports from Laura Stone, Jeff Gray and Oliver Moore
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