OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has signed several agreements for potential COVID-19 vaccines and should be able to get them out to a large part of the population by the end of next year, one of Canada’s top doctors said on Tuesday.
It is the first timeline for distribution of a vaccine that Ottawa has provided since Pfizer Inc last week and Moderna on Monday reported that their inoculation candidates had been extremely effective in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Canada has signed agreements here for millions of doses of each of these potential vaccines, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said could start arriving in the country in the first quarter of next year for distribution to the highest risk and most vulnerable people. Canada's population is about 37.7 million, according to United Nations data.
But Canada has five more agreements for potential vaccines, and those could also become available next year after regulatory approval, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Howard Njoo told reporters, adding that it was an optimistic projection.
“If all goes well... we’ll have a suite of vaccines available, and if we get delivery of those vaccines, I certainly can anticipate that as the year goes on ... (Canadians) will be able to be vaccinated and have a large part of the population covered by the end of the year,” Njoo said.
It may take longer for Canadians to get the vaccine than Americans. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said this week that he expects mass inoculations to occur in May and June.
The Bank of Canada predicted last month, before Pfizer and Moderna preliminary test results were released, that “vaccines and effective treatments will be widely available by mid-2022”.
Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chris Reese and Grant McCool
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