COVID-19 in Canada: Dr. Tam 'cautiously optimistic' a vaccine could be available 'in the first quarter of 2021'; Ontario moves region to 'red zone'

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COVID-19 could be available to Canadians in early 2021

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, spoke about the possible roll out of a viable COVID-19 vaccine, stating that she is “cautiously optimistic” that one will be available “in the first quarter of 2021.”

“When vaccines become available, there will be a limited supply at first,” she explained. “While that supply will continue to increase over time, it does mean that federal, provincial and territorial governments will have to make important decisions on how to use the initial vaccine supply.”

On Tuesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) provided guidance on populations that should be prioritized for early COVID-19 immunizations, including people at high risk of severe outcomes or those at high risk of spreading to them, essential workers and people whose living or working conditions put them at elevated risk of infection, including Indigenous communities.

“While this preliminary guidance is helpful for planning, there is still a long road ahead,” Dr. Tam said. “Clinical trials need to continue, Health Canada still needs to approve the vaccines, if they are deemed safe and effective, and we will be receiving additional advice on prioritization, based on the characteristics of each vaccine, once approved.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also indicated that obtaining COVID-19 vaccines for Canadian is a “top priority” for the federal government. He added that distribution decisions will be “based on the recommendations of experts.”

“The decision on how to roll out vaccines will be discussed by the vaccine committee of experts but also, it will be a conversation with the provinces,” Trudeau said. “We know that some of the first vaccines to come out have extremely high degrees of logistical support necessary, things like freezers that can keep the vaccines down at -80 C, for example, which doesn’t lend itself to mass distribution in pharmacies across the country, for example.”

“But later vaccines that will be arriving will be able to do that. We have to have a very sophisticated plan to be able to roll out vaccines the right way, the right vaccines, in the right place, to the right people. There are many, may conversations to be had.”

Peel moves to red zone of restrictions after COVID-19 cases get ‘out of control’

The Ontario government announced Friday that the Peel region is moving into the red zone of restrictions.

“The numbers that we’re seeing in Peel and specifically Brampton, they’re just going through the roof,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday. “It’s out of control right now and we have react.”

This comes as the province reported 1,003 daily COVID-19 cases, including 300 new cases in Toronto, 280 in Peel and 125 in York Region.

As of Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12:01 a.m., public health unit regions will be in these levels, which will require them to follow the latest restrictions listed as part of the province’s new colour-scale format:

  • Red-Control:

    • Peel Regional Health Unit

  • Orange-Restrict:

    • Ottawa Public Health

    • York Region Public Health

  • Yellow-Protect:

    • Brant County Health Unit

    • City of Hamilton Public Health Services

    • Durham Region Health Department

    • Eastern Ontario Health Unit

    • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit

    • Halton Region Public Health

    • Niagara Region Public Health

    • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services

    • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit

    • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

  • Green-Prevent:

    • Algoma Public Health

    • Chatham-Kent Public Health

    • Grey Bruce Health Unit

    • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health

    • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit

    • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

    • Huron Perth Public Health

    • Lambton Public Health

    • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

    • Middlesex-London Health Unit

    • North Bay Parry Sound District

    • Northwestern Health Unit

    • Peterborough Public Health

    • Porcupine Health Unit

    • Public Health Sudbury & Districts

    • Renfrew County and District Health Unit

    • Southwestern Public Health

    • Thunder Bay District Health Unit

    • Timiskaming Health Unit

    • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

Toronto Public Health will remain in a modified Stage 2 until November 14, 2020.

Check out our COVID-19 in Canada topic page for latest news, tips, health updates, cases and more.

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