Amid promising news regarding the development of a coronavirus vaccine, Ontario’s health minister says the province is working to create a “fair and equitable” plan for vaccine distribution.
Pfizer said Monday that an early peek at the data on its coronavirus vaccine suggests the shots may be 90 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19, putting the company on track to apply for approval in the U.S. later this month.
“It is absolutely wonderful news that this looks like a vaccine that’s going to be very effective will be available soon,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said regarding the news.
“We do have a group within the Ministry of Health that is making arrangements for when a vaccine is available for distribution, determining who the first group of people who will be receiving the vaccine, and so on.
“There’s a lot of work to be done around that, but it’s planning that needs to happen to make sure that we have a fair and equitable response for everyone.”
Experts have cautioned that while the news from Pfizer is positive, there are still a lot of unknowns with the vaccine and it doesn’t necessarily mean wide distribution is fast-approaching.
Elliott said there will be “many challenges” with the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine, including possible refrigeration or freezing requirements.
“That’s why we really need to have a very detailed plan for when we receive the doses of the vaccine, and as soon as we receive them, we need to be prepared to distribute them so that people can get the vaccines as quickly as possible,” Elliott said.
She said the Ministry of Health will have a plan available by the time a vaccine is ready.
Canada is among several countries that have signed a deal with Pfizer to secure millions of doses. Canada has also signed deals with several other companies that are currently working to find an effective vaccine.
— With files from Katie Dangerfield and The Associated Press
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