OTTAWA (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc’s announcement that its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective is “very encouraging” and Canada is looking to secure more doses of it, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
“We hope a vaccine is coming early next year. We’re seeing a light at the end of the tunnel,” he told a news conference. Canada has a deal with Pfizer for a minimum of 20 million doses.
The doses could be distributed during the first quarter of next year to high priority groups, Trudeau said. Canada may get the vaccine after the United States and Britain, but at about the same time as the European Union and others, a government source said.
While Trudeau said other vaccine candidates are expected to perform well, he said Canada was looking to secure more doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech SE.
“As for Pfizer, I know we have secured several million doses ... and obviously if it works we will buy more when they become available,” he said. Trudeau added that there were logistical challenges to distributing the vaccine since it must be stored at very low temperatures.
“We don’t have the infrastructure in place now to store the vaccine but I’m confident it will be in place in January,” said the government source, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation. “We won’t be able to get supplies into every pharmacy, certainly not immediately.”
As is the case in many countries, a second wave of the novel coronavirus is sweeping across Canada, which is setting daily records for new infections. Canada has recorded 264,113 cases and 10,522 deaths so far, forcing some provinces to reimpose restrictions on gatherings and movement.
“We need to hang on - the next months are critical,” Trudeau said. Canada has agreements with a number of major companies to access up to 358 million doses of their vaccine candidates.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Paul Simao and Grant McCool
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