Canadians can expect the first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in early 2021, likely later than those countries that can produce it themselves, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.
He also named the Canadian army's Major-General Dany Fortin, who previously led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Iraq, to head a national operations centre that will coordinate the country's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
Trudeau said Canada is on track to vaccinate almost every person that wants a shot by September 2021.
The cumulative number is high and many areas are experiencing rapid growth and these cumulative numbers show the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date, said Canadian Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam in a statement on Thursday.
"We're going to continue to do everything we can to deliver for Canadians, listening to experts working with top people to make sure that we're doing this right, and quickly and safely".
Arianne Reza, an assistant deputy minister with Public Services and Procurement Canada, said vaccines should be ready for distribution soon afterward.
So far, he said, there are no answers.
That wasn't good enough for Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who later Friday roasted Trudeau for failing to give provinces and territories specific information they need for a potential vaccine launch.
However, because Canada has no domestic production capacity for vaccines, it will not be the first country to see our population vaccinated.
"Hopefully we'll have vaccines that don't have to be kept at such low temperatures, so the logistics will become easier over the time", said Dr.
Fortin most recently served as the Chief of Staff for the Canadian Joint Operations Command, but has also served as the commander of NATO's Iraq mission.
Public health officials said this week that three million Canadians, or eight per cent of the population, should receive vaccinations in the first three months of the year.
Bernstein said the United Kingdom is building a facility near Oxford, a collaboration among the government, academia and industry, that would be a good model for something similar in Canada.
"The race to get to the starting line first, I can understand, but this pandemic doesn't get over until we reached the finish line", Trudeau said.
The news follows more alarming daily COVID-19 case numbers from Ontario, which reported a record 1,855 new cases, and 20 more deaths on Friday.
Canada has struck purchasing deals with five pharmaceutical manufacturers, and agreements in principle with two more, paving the way for at least 194 million vaccine doses if all their products are eventually approved.