High-level general to lead vaccine rollout and aims to vaccinate majority by September: PM

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Canada has hired the former NATO commander, Major General. Dany Fortin will lead the national vaccine distribution effort, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his goal to immunize more than half of all Canadians by September 2021.

“Canadians can expect that, if all goes well, more than half of us will be vaccinated by next September,” the Prime Minister said, adding that this “important positive news” was coming straight away. federal health experts from Canada.

“I can understand the ardor with which people want to know, ‘When is this going to be over? When will we receive the vaccines? What we can say is that we are working extremely hard to deliver as quickly and as safely as possible… if all goes according to plan, we should be able to get the majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September ” , Trudeau said.

Trudeau also spoke in more detail about the government’s vaccination strategy of sourcing up to 414 million doses from seven different drug companies – enough to vaccinate every person in this country more than a few times. Because COVID-19 is a new disease and there are different approaches to fighting it, Canada wanted to keep its options open, he said.

“Some will work better than others, and some will be speed bumps along the way, which will lead to additional challenges, and we knew that creating an array of opportunities for Canadians was one of the best ways to ensure that we would get through that in the best possible way, ”Trudeau said.

When asked what the biggest question was on his mind before giving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to a Canadian, Trudeau said it was a matter of safety.

“I think the question we all ask ourselves is, will it be safe? Is it going to be effective? This is what our scientists are looking at very, very carefully right now … There are jurisdictions and countries around the world that have staked everything on one or maybe two different vaccines … Whatever vaccines end up being the right ones to get through this pandemic, Canadians have a very good chance of having access to millions of doses of these, ”Trudeau said.

Health Canada will need to assess each candidate before they can be administered to Canadians and on Thursday the chief medical adviser of that agency said the first approval of the COVID-19 vaccine could take place before Christmas, in line with expected approvals in the United States and in Europe.

“We expect to make a final decision on vaccines at around the same time,” Dr Supriya Sharma told reporters on Thursday at the premiere of what will be weekly public briefings on the status of purchasing and deployment plans.

This means Canada could see the first approvals in December, the first priority groups vaccinated between January and March, and expand to more Canadians in the following months.

“And then we’ll have to figure out all of these expeditions,” she said.

This is when the military should play a role.

THE TOP MILITARY GENERAL TAKES THE LEAD

As CTV News first reported ahead of Trudeau’s Rideau Cottage speech on Friday, Fortin will be tasked with overseeing what is expected to be a massive logistics delivery operation for the vaccine.

Trudeau called it “the greatest mobilization effort Canada has seen since World War II.”

Canadian Armed Forces military logistics teams are already working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to plan the deployment of vaccines to millions of Canadians in the coming months. This work has been quietly underway for months, but with the publication of positive news on vaccine trials in recent weeks, the country’s attention has been widely grabbed to assess Canada’s position.

Known as the National Operations Center, Fortin will lead logistics and operations within the center.

“This will be the largest immunization in the history of the country,” Trudeau said. “We have to reach out to everyone who wants a vaccine, no matter where they live.”

Fortin most recently served as the Chief of Staff of the Canadian Joint Operations Command, but he was also the Commander of the NATO mission in Iraq.

“The Canadian Armed Forces will help with planning, particularly to address challenges such as cold storage requirements, data sharing and reach out to Indigenous and rural communities,” Trudeau said.

To further complicate the arduous task of distributing millions of vials across the country, a number of candidate vaccines tested – including the Pfizer vaccine – require two doses and must be stored at very cold temperatures.

The government has started purchasing freezers capable of staying cold enough to maintain a stable vaccine supply, and the procurement process is underway for a tender to ship, steal and drive doses in all areas. regions of the country.

The Prime Minister again spoke with the provinces Thursday evening about the response to COVID-19 and said the federal government was offering the latest information possible, after frustration and confusion over timelines and plans have spread this week.

“We have continued to work with the provinces on vaccine delivery logistics since last spring. We made a commitment, understanding that a vaccine was the way we were going to get through this pandemic, ”Trudeau said.

Noting that Ontario set a new record for the most COVID-19 cases reported in a single day on Friday, and that Canadians from coast to coast are adjusting to new levels of restrictions in the face in wave two, Trudeau said Canada is in “some of the most difficult days of this pandemic.” Trudeau reaffirmed that, as the country waits for vaccines, standard public health measures have yet to be taken.

As Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam reported on Friday, Canada is currently recording an average of 5,300 new cases per day, with “rapid growth” continuing in many parts of the country. Dr Tam said Canada is on track to double the number of new daily cases within a week or two if Canadians do not limit their outings and interactions to those that are essential.

“We are in the same boat and the more we work as a team, the better we will all do,” the Prime Minister said on Friday.

With files from Michel Boyer and Solarina Ho from CTV News

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