Ontario may now not receive COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021, health minister says

Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario may not be getting a COVID-19 vaccine in early 2021 as previously stated.

Premier Doug Ford said on Monday the province was expecting to start receiving the vaccine in the early part of the year. Elliott said the same on Nov. 18, adding that Ontario was expecting a total of 2.4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by March.

However, federal officials did not confirm the health minister’s remarks at the time. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there was “still uncertainty” as to when the vaccines would be manufactured.

On Thursday, Elliott said Ontario’s expectations may have changed when asked about the vaccine in Queen’s Park.

Read more: Ontario expects to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccines in early 2021, appoints distribution task force

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“My information had been given to us by the federal government, in terms of the total numbers that were going to be expected in Canada and the approximate time when, and then we just did a calculation of the per capita distribution and based it on that,” Elliott said.

“But in light of the present comments made by the prime minister, this is very concerning and very disappointing because our understanding was that this had been finalized by the federal government. Now it appears maybe it’s not.”

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Ontario may not get coronavirus vaccine in early 2021: Health minister

Trudeau said Tuesday that a lack of vaccine-production capabilities in Canada means the United States, Britain, Germany and other countries could have some of their citizens inoculated against COVID-19 before Canadians start to get shots.

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“One of the things to remember is Canada no longer has any domestic production capacity for vaccines,” Trudeau said.

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Read more: Despite ‘best vaccine portfolio’, Canada still reliant on other nations for supply: Trudeau

However, Trudeau downplayed any threat to Canada’s access to vaccines and said he expects that the first doses will arrive in early 2021.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have released promising results from their COVID-19 vaccine trials. Pfizer said its vaccine is 95 per cent effective while Moderna said its vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective.

Elliott said that the government is not aware of a revised timeline for vaccine distribution.

“This was as big a surprise to me as it was to you,” she said.

“So what we intend to do is work very hard to ensure that the prime minister does stand up for Canada and make sure that we get the aggregate number of doses that were originally calculated, and in a timely manner.”

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Ford said Thursday that he will be seeking clarification from the federal government and suggested that Ontario should be able to produce its own vaccines.

To date, Ontario has reported 109,361 total coronavirus cases and 3,575 total deaths since the pandemic began in March.

With files from Ryan Rocca, Gabby Rodrigues and The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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