Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is set to receive over two million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine alone every week until the end of August — in addition to shipments from other vaccine manufacturers.
This means Canada will receive more than nine million doses in July, and over nine million doses in August, Trudeau added. The government also negotiated an option for another three million Pfizer doses to arrive in September — providing new clarity on what vaccine supply could be in the late summer and early fall.
The government has repeatedly assured Canadians that anyone who wants a COVID-19 jab will get one before the end of September — a goal Trudeau says is within our sights.
“We’ll keep getting shipments secured until everyone can get their shots. But at the pace we’re going, that target is well within reach,” Trudeau said.
“65 per cent of eligible Canadians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That makes Canada the…G20 country with the highest percentage of the population with a first shot.”
He said this is a “reason to be hopeful.”
“The more people are vaccinated, the safer we all are and the closer we all get to being through this crisis,” Trudeau said.
“In other words, you have reason to be hopeful about this summer and this fall.”
On Thursday, Canada received its largest single shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to date: 2.4 million doses, according to Brig.-Gen. Krista Brodie, who is in charge of overseeing the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across Canada.
Canada has administered 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to date, and Brodie said the country is on track to get many more needles into arms before the month is through.
“We are on track to distribute more than 40 million doses by the end of this month,” Brodie said.
That’s more doses than the entire population of Canada, which is just shy of 38 million people. Canadians each need two doses of a vaccine in order to be fully vaccinated.
Speaking Friday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam stressed the importance of Canadians getting their second shot — particularly as COVID-19 variants continue to spread.
“One dose of vaccines provides some protection, but not quite as good as two doses,” said Tam, referring early real-life data emerging from the U.K. regarding vaccine efficacy against variants.
“This is why it’s important to remind everybody to get a second dose as supplies increase.”
The vaccination efforts are already starting to have an effect on Canada’s COVID-19 count, Tam added. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward in parts of the country while vaccinations keep ramping up.
The latest seven-day average for daily cases in the country is 2,300, down 73 per cent from the peak of the third wave, Tam said.
She added that hospitalizations are down 47 per cent, ICU admissions are down 31 per cent and deaths down are down 35 per cent.
When will the pandemic end?
As vaccination efforts continue, all eyes are on a timeline for back-to-normal — but Tam is warning that COVID-19 won’t disappear overnight.
“It’s in every country and every corner of the world. So until the world is vaccinated, the virus is not going to disappear any time soon,” she said.
But, she said, she’s watching for an end to the “crisis phase of the pandemic.”
That crisis phases is characterized by the need to “repeatedly escalate our public health response as a result of massive surges in virus activity,” Tam said.
Officials will be watching factors like hospitalizations, ICU admissions, case numbers and the virus trajectory in order to determine when that crisis phase has passed. But Tam said we’re not quite there yet.
“I do think that this is still a time of caution,” she said.
Vaccination rates are another key factor for determining when Canada can reopen, Tam added. It will also help us avoid another lockdown once we can safely reopen. She said she’s watching for 75 per cent of the population to have received two doses, the target most provinces have said they need to achieve before they start to lift most public health restrictions.
“75 per cent (with) two doses is a goal, based on the level of vaccination, so that we don’t overwhelm our health system. But we can do better than that,” Tam said.
“I actually think we should keep going. This isn’t a threshold or limit. We’ve seen some communities getting over 80 per cent, some seniors getting over 90 per cent vaccine coverage. And so we should shoot for the stars.”
— With files from The Canadian Press