Feds announce decreasing COVID numbers and another vaccine on the way

With the skepticism over vaccine procurement rising, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday a third vaccine is on the way in the near future.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is nearing approval from Health Canada and Trudeau said Canada will receive 1.9 million doses by the end of June.

These were procured through the global vaccine sharing program called COVAX.

Canada’s participation in the program has drawn heat from opposition parties who say Canada, as a wealthier country, should be producing its own vaccinations rather than taking them out of the hands of poorer low income countries who need the help.

Trudeau maintains it was always their plan to utilize COVAX vaccines as part of their vaccine portfolio.

“When wealthier countries invest in COVAX, half of that funding is for doses at home, and the other half is to buy doses for low and middle-income countries,” Trudeau explained. “Our contribution was always intended to access vaccine doses for Canadians as well as to support lower income Countries.”

Some of the poorer countries receiving vaccines from COVAX are Ethiopia, Indonesia and Afghanistan.

Federal officials have said we could see AstaZeneca doses as early as end of March.

The 1.9 million doses are in addition to the 20 million doses Canada originally bought from AstraZeneca in September.

Canada’s other leading candidates are the Janssen and Novavax vaccines currently in human trials.

Canada has purchased 10 million doses of Janssen with the option of 28 million more and 52 million doses form Novavax with an option of up to 76 million total.

With vaccines rolling out in Indigenous communities, the concern over vaccine hesitancy remains.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says their studies show 70 per cent of Canadians are willing to step up for the jab.

The remaining 30 per cent are some who have basic questions. Tam feels that group may be misinformed from social media or peers causing hesitancy and suggests people get their information from more mainstream sources.

Another group are healthcare workers who are choosing to wait. Tam finds this group troublesome and said they should be leading by example.

Tam says there is a remaining 10 to 12 per cent of Canadians who say they’re just not going get it.

In a bit of good news Tam reports a 30 per cent decrease in national cases compared to two weeks ago and many provinces reporting 15 per cent fewer cases compared to last week.

Hospitalizations and deaths are also down across the country.

With Super Bowl weekend coming up Tam says it is not the time to reduce restrictions as it is early in the vaccination process.

Tam confirmed the effectiveness of vaccinations is not yet know and she will be watching certain groups.

“One of the first pieces of data we will be looking for of course is the impact on the long term care facilities and the seniors and see if that has an effect on the impact on hospitalizations and on deaths,” Tam told reporters on Friday.

At his press conference Friday, Trudeau also announced more help for the Pauingassi First Nation in Manitoba.

The northern community has been ravaged by cases since the Christmas holidays.

Trudeau approved the request for federal assistance Friday and Armed Forces troops are expected to land in the community Saturday, remaining until February 10.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.