More COVID-19 vaccine is coming to B.C., but questions remain about logistics

Click to play video: 'Winter storm in U.S. interrupts Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply'
Winter storm in U.S. interrupts Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply
WATCH: While a winter storm in the eastern U.S. interrupts shipments of COVID1-19 vaccines to Canada, one B.C. Expert says there are more challenges for the mass vaccination program still ahead. Aaron McArthur reports. – Feb 16, 2021

B.C.’s top doctor says she understands that British Columbians are frustrated by the pace of vaccinations in the province, but she says more doses are on the way.

“It is what it is,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

“It doesn’t make vaccine come any quicker to be upset or angry or mad about it. We’re playing the hand we were dealt and we are committed to getting immunizations as fast into people’s arms to protect people as we receive them.”

Click to play video: 'Rising COVID-19 concerns in Fraser Health'
Rising COVID-19 concerns in Fraser Health

Canada’s shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be delayed by one day due to a winter storm wreaking havoc in the United States, the company confirmed.

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Henry said Pfizer has committed to providing increased doses between now and the end of March, and she is hopeful the province will receive an increased number of doses from Moderna.

Click to play video: 'First Nations vaccination program slowed by delivery delays to B.C.'
First Nations vaccination program slowed by delivery delays to B.C.

With deliveries set to ramp up, Henry said she is now confident the gap between vaccine doses can safely be extended to up to three months if necessary.

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In B.C., researchers have monitored vaccinated residents of long-term care homes after they connected with people with COVID-19, Henry said.

Read more: U.S. storm delays Canada’s Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipment by 1 day

In the three weeks after the initial dose, the protective effect of the vaccine was nearly 90 per cent, she said.

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“As a scientist and somebody who has worked in the field of vaccines for quite a long time, this is actually incredibly exciting and positive news that we have this very high level of protection in seniors here in B.C. from the first dose of the vaccine,” Henry said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada is on track to get six million vaccinations by the end of March and tens of millions through the spring.

Mahesh Nagarajan, a professor of operations and logistics with UBC’s Sauder School of Business, says those numbers are a best-case scenario.

“My hope is that the provinces have come with a very robust plan to vaccinate the different segments of the population so we can get to a target by September,” he said.

Nagarajan says the logistics of mass vaccination are daunting.

“Let’s assume that we have about four million people left to vaccinate in B.C. — and I’m being generous because it’s actually more than that — and we are going to start on the 1st of March, we’re looking at approximately 19,000 vaccinations a day, and this is simply assuming one shot of vaccine,” he said.

“At some point, we have to ask if we have the logistics that can actually get these many shots into people’s arms.”

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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