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Trudeau offers somber Christmas message but says 500,000 vaccine doses are coming early in the new year

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged today that Christmas won’t be the same this year, with wide swaths of the country under COVID-related lockdowns, he said there’s reason for optimism in 2021 now that hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses are expected to arrive early in the new year.

Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Trudeau said the government got word today that Pfizer will be shipping 125,000 vaccine doses per week in January 2021 for a total of 500,000 shots — primarily destined for the arms of front line health care workers and long-term care home residents. Pfizer has committed already to delivering 255,000 doses to Canada in December.

All told, roughly 375,000 Canadians are expected to be vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer shot by the end of January.

Canada is also anticipating the delivery this month of 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, enough for about 84,000 people. The Moderna product is still waiting on Health Canada’s regulatory approval.

“This is the largest immunization campaign our country has ever seen, and I know we have the right plan and the expertise we need,” Trudeau said. “But remember, a vaccine in a week or in a month won’t help you if you get COVID-19 today.”

U.S. vaccination campaign pulling ahead of Canada

The U.S. is expected to vaccinate many more people than Canada in the coming weeks.

Gen. Gustave Perna is the military general leading Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. mission to develop and distribute a vaccine. He said Pfizer already has shipped 2.9 million doses to the United States, with millions more to follow by month’s end.

Some U.S. governors, however, are reporting that their allocations of the vaccine are less than what they expected.

The U.S. also has secured 100 million doses of the promising Moderna product for the first three months of 2021 alone. Canada expects to receive about 2 million Moderna doses between January and March.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief science adviser to the U.S. vaccine operation, has said every American who wants a vaccine will get one by June.

The Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News Tuesday that it expects to have enough vaccine doses on hand to vaccinate every Canadian by the end of September, 2021.

Asked what he would do to close the Canada-U.S. vaccine gap, Trudeau said the federal government has secured one of the broadest portfolios of promising vaccine candidates in the world.

“The Americans have a health care system that will have challenges and will have successes. We have our own process. We’re focused on our own process to make sure that as many Canadians as possible get vaccinated, as quickly as possible, with vaccines that are safe and effective and approved by Health Canada,” he said.


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