Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada is “well-positioned” when it comes to potential coronavirus vaccines – but she warns that rolling out the vaccinations to all citizens will take “a while.”
Her comments come on the heels of news of a third vaccine’s promising late-stage trial results, with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announcing Monday that its coronavirus vaccine appears to be up to 90 per cent effective.
This comes after two other vaccines, one from Pfizer and another from Moderna, both showed similarly promising late-stage trial results in recent weeks.
“Our federal government has contracts for purchasing the most successful candidate vaccines. Canada has a group of vaccines that include all the vaccines that have produced positive results and include other candidate vaccines which we believe will be successful. That is a good thing,” Freeland said, speaking in French during a Monday press conference.
“Our country is very well positioned when it comes to vaccines. We will have the necessary vaccines.”
However, she noted that the details with respect to how those vaccines will be distributed are still being ironed out with the provinces and territories.
An additional hurdle the government is working to overcome is that some of the promising vaccines require ultra-cold temperatures for shipping and storing.
In light of these logistical challenges that the government is still wrestling with, Freeland tempered expectations that the vaccination process will be a speedy endeavour.
“Vaccination will be a process. We cannot and we do not vaccinate everyone in the country on the same day,” Freeland cautioned.
“So it’s good news that we’ve purchased the vaccines, it’s good news that now we have three vaccines that have good results, but we also need to understand that it takes a while for everyone in the country to be vaccinated. But we will do it, and I’m convinced of that.”
Meanwhile, as reporters continued to press the issue, Freeland offered few other details regarding the government’s plans for the vaccine rollout.
“Right now we are working with the provinces and territories to organize a system for the distribution of vaccines and the vaccination of Canadians throughout the country and we are convinced that we will succeed in doing that,” she said.
Speaking last week, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said he hopes the majority of Canadians will be vaccinated by the end of next year – marking the beginning of the end of a pandemic that has changed the daily lives of Canadians.
“We’re looking at hopefully covering the vast majority of the Canadian population … by the end of next year,” Njoo said, speaking at a Nov. 17 press conference.
“This is something that is happening in real-time and certainly there will be adjustments made as we move along.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also said he expects Canadians will start to see the other side of the pandemic in the spring, as vaccines begin to roll out.
“People just need to hang on. It’s not forever, it’s only for a few more months,” Trudeau said in an interview for The Mike Farwell Show, which aired on 570 News Kitchener on Nov. 17.
“As winter comes and goes and we get into the spring when there’ll be vaccines, we’re going to see the other side of this.”