The highly anticipated arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Chatham-Kent is placed on pause.
For the past several weeks, Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, has been hopeful for the vaccine’s arrival. In fact, the region’s top doctor was optimistic it would arrive by the end of the month. But now, he isn’t sure when it will arrive.
As it stands, shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine to Canada are delayed from Pfizer while the pharmaceutical company upgrades its factory in Puurs, Belgium. This is said to be done in order to increase production capacity. The factory is set to return to full production February 15.
“The Pfizer slowdown resulting from a retooling of the plant in Belgium has thrown all plans into disarray,” said Colby.
He suggested to the province the region starts with 5,000 doses of the vaccine for the Phase 1 vaccine rollout to get started and have a fairly broad base of vaccination.
“All bets are off with regard to the Pfizer shortage,” said Colby.
In the meantime, Colby said it is a waiting game, adding, “When we know, we’ll know.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to deliver a message of comfort to Canadians regarding the vaccine on January 21.
“Today, I spoke with the CEO of Pfizer Global, Dr. Bourla, about the timely delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to Canada,” Trudeau tweeted. “He assured me that we’d receive four million doses by the end of March. We’ll keep working together to ensure Canadians can get a vaccine as soon as possible.”
Canada’s vaccine rollout could happen faster if more vaccines are approved.
The projections suggest based on all vaccines Canada has created, but have yet to be approved, as many as 23 million Canadians could be vaccinated between April and June. This would account for 61 percent of the population. Canada could have enough doses for up to 73 million people between July and September. If that were the case, there would be more than enough vaccines for everyone who wants one.
Projections released January 21 by Federal Health Officials suggest Canada will be able to vaccinate three million people by the end of March. This accounts for eight percent of the entire population.
Even if Canada doesn’t approve any more vaccines by the fall, estimates suggest doses from Pfizer and Moderna will cover 13 million Canadians, or 34 percent, by June and 36 million, or 95 percent, by September 30.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News