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Canada Covid vaccine rollout soon back on track: Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells a news conference after speaking with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla that deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine would be stepped up in March after a shortfall in February - Lars Hagberg / ©AFP
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells a news conference after speaking with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla that deliveries of its Covid-19 vaccine would be stepped up in March after a shortfall in February - Lars Hagberg / ©AFP

(AFP)

Canada’s Covid-19 vaccines rollout will be back on track in March with stepped up deliveries of doses to make up for recent delays, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Outstanding deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines plus the purchase of additional doses from Moderna — the only two approved for use in Canada, so far — will bring the nation’s total supply to 84 million doses by the end of September, he said.

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That is more than enough to inoculate all of Canada’s 38 million people using the two-dose vaccines.

“We’ve been continuing to work every single day on getting as many doses as possible as quickly as possible into Canadians’ arms,” Trudeau told a news conference.

His minority Liberal government faced growing criticism in recent weeks after its immunization effort hit a bump, with no domestic production capabilities and deliveries of the first authorized Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses sourced from Europe delayed while the number of Covid-19 cases spiked.

So far, only 2.4 percent of Canadians have received the first of two required doses of the two vaccines, and 0.5 percent have received both shots needed for immunity against the coronavirus.

Trudeau said four million Pfizer-BioNTech doses would now be delivered in March, plus another 10.8 million between April and June, and 25 million subsequently.

He also announced the purchase of an additional four million Moderna doses to be delivered over the summer, on top of 40 million previously ordered doses.

Hedging bets, Canada had placed orders and secured options for more than 400 million doses of vaccines from seven pharmaceutical firms.

It is continuing to evaluate vaccines made by AstraZeneca, Sanofi and GSK, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, and Medicago.

Meanwhile, a previously announced requirement for travelers to Canada to quarantine in hotels upon arrival while awaiting mandatory PCR test results will take effect on February 22, Trudeau said.

New arrivals will have to pay about Can$2,000 (US$1,600) to quarantine in the designated hotels for up to three days under strict supervision.

If their test comes back negative, they will be permitted to complete their full 14-day quarantine at home. Those with positive tests will be moved to a government quarantine facility.

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