Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement makes an announcement regarding vaccine procurement, in Toronto, on Wed., Aug., 5, 2020. Canada has informed a global vaccine procurement program that it wants to be part of the entire process and the financial commitment to make it official is coming hopefully by the end of the week.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

There will be a dramatic resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Canada unless people limit contact with others in coming days, the country’s chief public health officer warns.

“We don’t want it to go up a giant ski hill,” Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday as she described the potential for a sharp upward curve.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released its latest modelling Tuesday, predicting up to 155,795 cases and up to 9,300 deaths by early October if the current trajectory of the epidemic continues.

The message throughout the presentation was clear: everyone needs to act now to limit their contacts or things will get worse.

“Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path,” said a presentation deck released Tuesday.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu echoed that advice as she urged people to think carefully before accepting invitations to social gatherings.

“All of us have the future in our hands,” she said Tuesday during a media briefing in Ottawa.

She also said, however, that the spread of the novel coronavirus is not the same across the country, or even across single provinces, so determining whether restrictions need tightening demands a “surgical approach.”

READ MORE: Majority of Canadians support wearing masks during COVID-19, oppose protests: poll

Meanwhile, Canada has now committed more than $1 billion to buy doses of COVID-19 vaccines after securing a fifth deal with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Tuesday.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that Canada has a deal in place to buy up to 72 million doses of their experimental vaccine candidate, which is just starting the second of three trial phases this month.

In all, Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies, and most of that money will not be refunded even if the vaccines never get approved.

“We need to make a substantial investment in order to ensure that Canada is well positioned to secure access to the successful vaccine or vaccines,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“The way in which we are doing that is to bet on multiple horses at the same time in order to ensure that as one or more of those horses crosses the finish line, we have access to those vaccines.”

Canada has signed deals with Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and now Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, all of which are among some of the most promising vaccines, but none of which have completed all the required clinical trials, or been approved for use in Canada.

On Sept. 3, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said their vaccine candidate was going to begin Phase 1/2 trials which will test it on 440 individuals. The hope is the vaccine will be ready for the third and final phase of trials by the end of the year, and approved for use in the first half of 2021.

Moderna has a vaccine in Phase 3 trials, and Pfizer’s is in a combined Phase 2 and 3 trial. Novavax is in a Phase 2 trial, while Johnson & Johnson is in a Phase 1/2 trial.

Most clinical trials have three phases to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine or drug being developed.

Each level of trials adds more volunteers on whom the drug is tested, looking for adverse health effects and whether the vaccine does cause a person to develop antibodies that can protect against COVID-19.

Anand said Canada has also signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada to get 150,000 vials of remdesivir, the only antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating patients with COVID-19. Health Canada approved the drug for use on COVID-19 patients at the end of July.

The doses will begin arriving at Canadian hospitals this month.

Canada has also joined the international vaccine co-operative known as the COVAX Facility, which is bringing together wealthy countries with low- and middle-income countries to collectively invest in doses of vaccines.

It has not yet announced how much money it will contribute, a figure that was to have come last week but has been delayed. Anand says Canada remains committed to COVAX and more details will be coming soon.

Canada has chosen to participate in both parts of the COVAX program. The first is for any country to join to get access to vaccines, and the second is a fund for wealthy countries to help low-income countries participate.

The Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and the Canadian Society for International Health have both criticized Canada for acting to buy doses of vaccine for itself, hindering efforts to ensure vaccines that are successful are distributed fairly around the world.

GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, said Monday that 64 wealthy countries had joined the COVAX Facility, including Canada. The United States has not joined.

Mia Rabson and Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive again on Oct. 21 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search continues for bear wandering through Saanich

Bear spotted eating garbage near Elk Lake Wednesday, B.C. Conservation says

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Tree-pruning community gathers in Oak Bay after tragic death

Crews met in solidarity at site of Tuesday incident

Some 30 people including a dozen youth participated in North Saanich’s first ever Fridays for Future protest outside of municipal hall on Mills Road Friday, according to organizers. (Anne-Marie Daniel/Submitted)
Fridays for Future plans second event for North Saanich after inaugural protest

Some 30 people attended first protest on Oct. 9 with a second one scheduled for Oct. 23

A Saanich police officer in an unmarked vehicle stopped a driver going 70 km/h over the speed limit in front of the police department. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Driver caught going 70 km/h over the speed limit in front of the Saanich Police Department

Officer in unmarked car issues $483 ticket, week-long vehicle impound

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read