A man walks past the COVID-19 vaccination site at Maimonides long term care facility Wednesday, January 13, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Questions remain over Canada’s vaccination drive amid delays and fresh applications

Canada’s national vaccine rollout seems poised to dominate COVID-19 discussions in the coming week as the country enters the 11th month of life during a global pandemic.

The federal government, which is overseeing the countrywide effort, has been facing strong criticism as it struggles to ensure there are enough immunization doses to go around.

The two companies whose vaccines have been approved for use here recently complicated matters by saying they wouldn’t immediately be able to deliver their promised number of doses due to production delays in Europe.

The Liberal government has repeatedly said both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna still intend to fulfil their promised delivery schedules and that current delays are temporary.

At least three other companies, Novavax, Astra-Zeneca and Johnson and Johnson, have all launched the process of having Health Canada approve their vaccines.

Canada had officially recorded more than 20,000 deaths caused by COVID-19 as of Sunday and is still logging high daily case counts in several provinces, though chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says overall totals are trending downward.

But she’s urging provinces and territories to maintain strict public health precautions to ensure case counts keep declining, noting the emergence of more infectious variants of the virus could send numbers soaring again.

One of the provinces hardest hit by the pandemic, however, is weighing the idea of loosening some restrictions as early as next week.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is currently scheduled to announce revisions to the province’s public health measures on Tuesday afternoon.

He’s indicated a desire to relax some protective measures, primarily for retail stores, but says he’ll only do so if the COVID-19 situation in the province allows for it.

Alberta has already announced plans to ease restrictions on businesses such as gyms and restaurants as of Feb. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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