Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink

Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Surging COVID-19 infections pushed Canada over 400,000 cases Friday, as federal officials announced a bigger order of prospective vaccines and released refined guidelines on who should be first for those doses.

The new milestone came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted case counts were “too high,” especially in Alberta “where the numbers are rising alarmingly.”

Warning of increased strain on hospitals and health-care workers, he singled out soaring numbers in the western province that have led the country in per-capita case rates. But Trudeau also called on all Canadians to redouble containment efforts.

“Now is not the time to blame one another or point fingers. Now is the time for us to keep working together,” Trudeau said as he acknowledged a “difficult” holiday season ahead.

“Every step of the way our job has not been to direct the provinces or judge the provinces; it has been to be there to support them. And we will be there to support the people of Alberta just like we’re there to support people right across the country.”

The latest 100,000 cases racked up in just 18 days, marking the shortest growth period since the pandemic was declared in March.

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16.

It took six months for Canada to record its first 100,000 cases of COVID-19, four months to reach the 200,000 threshold and less than a month to arrive at 300,000.

Canada’s national death toll from the virus stands at 12,470.

The new cases Friday included 1,780 infections in Ontario, 1,345 in Quebec, 320 in Manitoba, 283 in Saskatchewan, eight in New Brunswick and eight in Nunavut.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said spread had “hit a critical point” in her province, where there are 633 new cases in Toronto, 433 in Peel and 25 more deaths linked to the virus.

In Ottawa, Trudeau and Procurement Minister Anita Anand faced additional questions about when Canada would approve and distribute prospective COVID-19 vaccines that are said to be nearing deployment in other countries.

Anand said Canada had increased its order with Moderna and now expects at least 40 million doses from the U.S. biotech in 2021 – twice as much as was previously guaranteed.

Anand said the country is exercising its option to obtain more of Moderna’s two-dose candidate, which should be enough to vaccinate almost 20 million people.

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization refined its guidance on who should be at the front of the line when an approved vaccine is distributed.

NACI’s advice to provinces and territories is that the first doses go to residents and staff of congregate living settings that care for seniors.

They should also initially be prioritized for adults 80 years of age and older, then decreasing the age limit by five-year increments to age 70 as supply becomes available.

Also on the list: health-care workers and adults in Indigenous communities where infection can have disproportionate consequences.

Chief public health officer Theresa Tam noted final deployment plans remain with the provinces. She said the refined list assumes initial vaccine deliveries would include six million doses — enough in the first round of vaccinations to cover those from the priority groups who want it.

“As a ballpark, these four groups of people as things are rolled out should be covered by the initial doses,” said Tam.

“But I just have to caution that given there are so many different parameters and uncertainties, we just have to be prepared for unexpected things to happen.”

In early 2021, Canada expects a combined total of six million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, if authorized for distribution.

A contract has been awarded to FedEx and Innomar Strategies to help support the physical distribution of vaccines to provincial and health authorities across the country.

Health Canada said the review for Moderna is ongoing while regulatory approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could come as early as next week.

Moderna said Friday it will have as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March, including 15 to 25 million doses available for non-U.S. countries.

It said its messenger RNA vaccine shows signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19 and that Canada — the first country to sign a deal to buy its vaccine — will get doses from the first batches.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The district of Sparwood is seeking feedback on its Recreation Master Plan. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Non-medical cannabis store proposed for Sparwood

If approved, Elk Valley Cannabis would be the first cannabis business in the district

Natalie Joynes, Theo Hepher, Kai Dedey, and Sophia Becker sit on a blanket enjoying FYAN’s summer youth programming. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Job Readiness Workshops available for local youth

Registration is now open for the series of free virtual workshops

A number of Elkford’s youth enjoy the SYS.tem Space. (Photo contributed)
SYS.tem Elkford opens up new youth hang out spot

The SYS.tem Space offers youth access to a wide selection of free indoor and outdoor activities

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons. File photo.
MP Morrison calls Keystone XL permit cancellation ‘devastating news’

Kootenay-Columbia MP reacts to the Conservative Party’s removal of a controversial Ontario MP

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Police are searching for an alleged sex offender, Nicole Edwards, who they say has not returned to her Vancouver halfway house. (Police handout)
Police hunt for woman charged in ‘horrific’ assault who failed to return to Surrey halfway house

Call 911 immediately if you see alleged sex offender Nicole Edwards, police say

A screenshot from a local Instagram account video. The account appeared to be frequented by Mission students, and showed violent videos of students assaulting and bullying other students.
Parents, former students describe ‘culture of bullying’ in Mission school district

Nearly two dozen voices come forward speaking of abuse haunting the hallways in Mission, B.C.

Most Read