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Canada monitoring potential threats to vaccine rollout: feds

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Canada watching ‘a number of threat indicators’ amid COVID-19 vaccine delivery' Coronavirus: Canada watching ‘a number of threat indicators’ amid COVID-19 vaccine delivery
On Tuesday, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin discussed how Canada is working with several partners to watch “a number of threat indicators." – Dec 15, 2020

The government is watching “a number of threat indicators” as coronavirus vaccine doses arrive in Canada and travel into different communities, according to the man who is leading the charge on Canada’s vaccine distribution plans.

Threat indicators are the behaviours that are consistent with a threat.

“As I indicated before, there are a number of threat indicators that we are closely monitoring between the agencies, intelligence service, the law enforcement agencies,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, speaking to reporters on Tuesday.

“The appropriate level of information is shared down the line to provinces and territories, to the law enforcement agencies, so that they take concrete actions.”

Read more: Canada will receive 168K Moderna coronavirus vaccine doses this month, pending approval

His comments come less than a week after B.C.’s top doctor alluded to a “concerted effort” to disrupt the cold chain distribution of the vaccine in Canada, attributing her secrecy surrounding the vaccine storage locations to this potential threat.

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“It’s really around information that we’ve received internationally and from Canadian agencies that there has been a concerted effort to try and interrupt the cold chain, for example, and to sabotage immunization programs,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said, speaking to reporters on Thursday.

“We all need to make sure that we are taking appropriate precautions to make sure that it is safe and that we can make sure that it’s not tampered with during that whole process.”

Read more: Sabotage concerns a factor in secrecy around B.C. COVID-19 vaccine sites

Click to play video: 'How will B.C. officials safeguard COVID-19 vaccines?' How will B.C. officials safeguard COVID-19 vaccines?
How will B.C. officials safeguard COVID-19 vaccines? – Dec 10, 2020

Interpol has also been paying attention to the security of the vaccine supply chain. The international security organization issued a global alert to law enforcement on Dec. 2, warning them that vaccines could be targeted by nefarious actors.

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“As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains,” said Interpol Secretary-General Jürgen Stock.

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“Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives.”

Vaccine doses began flowing into Canada on Sunday evening, with the first needles going into arms on Monday – and the government is slated to seriously ramp up its supply next week.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Canada continuing negotiation on delivery of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine' Coronavirus: Canada continuing negotiation on delivery of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
Coronavirus: Canada continuing negotiation on delivery of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine – Dec 15, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that Canada will receive another 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week. Those doses will be delivered to 70 different locations, up from the 14 that are in use this week. The vaccine has to be kept in ultra-cold freezers, a reality that adds to the logistical difficulties.

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Officials have also said that Canada is expecting to wrap up its regulatory approval of a second vaccine candidate, from Moderna, very soon. Once that approval comes down, Trudeau said doses will begin to arrive within 48 hours – and Canada has inked a deal that would see 168,000 Moderna vaccine doses arriving before the end of the month.

While Moderna doesn’t require the same level of ultra-cold storage, the sheer scale of this project makes the logistics – and the related security concerns – all the more important to monitor, Trudeau said.

“The logistical delivery of those vaccines has been extraordinarily important to establish, to secure, and to ensure no interference or problems along that chain,” Trudeau said.

Click to play video: 'Prime Minister Trudeau meets with COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Ottawa' Prime Minister Trudeau meets with COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Ottawa
Prime Minister Trudeau meets with COVID-19 vaccine recipients in Ottawa – Dec 15, 2020

Fortin added that various intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and delivery companies involved in the process are all monitoring the threat indicators involved with the vaccine delivery process.

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“What I could say to all Canadians is that the appropriate measures are being taken by the appropriate organizations,” Fortin said.

“I understand that there are questions about possible risks at a location or another, rest assured that it’s being closely monitored by all parties.”

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