OTTAWA – Canadians will have to roll up their sleeves and eventually get vaccinated in large numbers to carry COVID-19 before life returns to its pre-epidemic state, Canada’s top public health officials said Tuesday.
“Extensive vaccination is the best shot for Canadians in regaining some of what we have lost and returning to the things we cherish – such as holding family and friends close, social events and living our lives free from disease,” said Dr. Theresa Tom, the country’s chief medical officer.
Tom and her deputy, Dr. Howard Nzu, made the assessment a day after the Trudeau government announced the latest installment of its plans to make deals with two American companies and buy tens of millions of potential vaccines in advance.
The new deals allow Canada to buy 76 million doses of the vaccine candidate from the Maryland-based biotech company Novavox and 38 million doses of the vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical company Johnson Inc.
Last month, the government signed similar deals with US companies Pfizer and Moderna, giving Canada access to up to 76 million doses.
Nju said it was unclear what percentage of Canadians would need to be vaccinated to achieve broader immunity but “the more Canadians benefit, the better”.
During the outbreak of measles and polio in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, both physicians imposed forced arrests, school closures, and bans on public meetings.
“Many of us are lucky. We don’t have to live with these kinds of measures because there are safe and effective vaccines for these diseases,” Tom said.
“Safe and effective vaccines if Canada and the world want the best for the general condition.”
Tom suggested that the goal of entry for effective immunity is a moving goal, because understanding the science surrounding COVID-19 is in progress.
For control purposes, that level must be constantly assessed.
“The international consensus is that we need to look at at least the 50 percent vaccine efficacy mark,” Tom said, adding “yes or no” is not the answer.
She said more will be known when data becomes available from ongoing 3rd phase clinical trials.
“It’s about keeping the evidence open and simple.”
Currently, there seems to be a low level of immunity to the disease worldwide, “so it is important to get enough of the vaccine,” Tom said.
Nju said the vaccine will be available sometime in 2021, probably in early spring.
“We are very optimistic here in Canada and are estimating the number of vaccine candidates,” Nju said.
“There may be an effective and safe vaccine, probably in 2021. We’ll not know when. Maybe in the spring, a little later. But hopefully that’s a very good thing.”
On whether or not such a vaccine is mandatory, Nju said it would be best to educate people about the benefits of immunization without forcing themselves, as it is the best way to increase the number of vaccines.
“I think it is more important to change the attitude of people who care more about vaccination than to have regulations to make vaccinations mandatory,” Nju said.
Although vaccinations have never been mandatory in Canada, he noted that long-term care facilities in hospitals and outbreaks of respiratory diseases should be vaccinated before allowing health care workers to return to work.
For testing for COVID-19, the gold standard is called PCR test or polymerase chain reaction testing, which is based on a sample collected from a person’s nose or throat.
When asked about the possibility of a home test for this disease, Nju said: “It’s very complicated, but the bottom line: we’re ready to examine all kinds of testing technologies because we have more tools in a variety of toolboxes that are available for use in a variety of contexts. . “
This report of the Canadian Press was first published on September 1, 2020.
Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press