Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says quality assurance backlogs, not production issues, have led to delays for Moderna shipments

The point man for Canada’s vaccine rollout is aiming to ensure provinces aren’t left scrambling when doses don’t arrive as planned, as Ontario reported a record number of new daily COVID-19 infections.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said 855,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine that were to have arrived last week are now in the country and distribution should wrap up Thursday. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has blamed Moderna lags for immunization clinics closing their doors or cancelling appointments in recent days.

Fortin said quality assurance backlogs, not production issues, have led to delays of about a week to 10 days for Moderna shipments. Four million more doses of that vaccine are expected by the end of May and deliveries are to come every two weeks instead of three.

“We’re fully aware the provinces are making adjustments and we’re trying to narrow this down as much as possible so that they don’t find themselves in situations where they have to constantly react to perceived delays,” Fortin said Thursday.

Ontario reported a new high of 4,736 new COVID-19 infections Thursday, along with 659 patients in intensive care and 29 more deaths. Associate chief medical officer Dr. Barbara Yaffe called the situation “dire.”

Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto’s University Health Network, said the province needs to tighten up its stay-at-home order if infections are to stop accelerating.

“It’s clearly not doing the job,” she said. “We’re 10 days in, and we’re hitting the highest numbers that we’ve seen and that trajectory is still upward — and upward quickly enough that it’s causing alarm.”

Hota said the Ford government should take a hard look at what businesses and activities truly are essential and make sure workers are supported if they have to stay home.

Ford’s cabinet was meeting Thursday to discuss new restrictions to deal with the sharp rise in variant cases, but Solicitor General Sylvia Jones would not say if a curfew would be among them.

Dr. Howard Njoo, federal deputy chief public health officer, also suggested a swifter ramp-up in vaccinations alone would likely not have thwarted the third wave taking hold in much of Canada.

“Vaccines are one tool in our tool box and a very important tool. But it’s not the vaccines alone that are going to solve it all.”

Njoo said maintaining tight public-health measures is key, especially in the face of more transmissible and dangerous virus variants, adding that Canadians need to “double down.”

He said it’s looking good for all Canadians to be offered their first vaccine dose by around June and their second dose by the end of the summer.

Hota said a speedier vaccine rollout likely would have made a difference in stemming the third wave, pointing to a steep drop in deaths and hospitalizations after vaccines were made available in long-term care homes.

“How much of an impact is always the question, because it’s not going to be perfect coverage.”

Also Thursday, widespread closures took effect in Nunavut’s capital city after Iqaluit reported its first case of COVID-19 since the pandemic started.

Quebec, meanwhile, announced more than 1,513 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 more fatalities.

Health Minister Christian Dube said that the province is considering offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to people younger than 55.

Provinces brought in the age restriction in response to rare cases of blood clots in younger people who had received that shot. One such reaction has been reported in Canada.

Health Canada has said it considers that vaccine safe. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is weighing whether to change its recommendation that the shot not be offered to those under 55.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said she’ll discuss with the provincial immunization committee this week whether to expand AstraZeneca shots to more age groups. But for now, she said, anyone between the ages of 55 and 64 should take the shot.

“There are no risk-free options with COVID-19 and this includes delaying getting a vaccine,” she said. “It is my professional opinion that the benefits of these vaccines outweigh any rare risks that may be associated.”

Alberta, which has Canada’s highest seven-day rate of cases, recorded 1,646 new infections on Thursday.

British Columbia reached a new record for hospitalizations at 409 and had 1,205 new cases.

Manitoba confirmed its first case of the P. 1 variant first found in Brazil, as it reported 153 new cases. Saskatchewan had 293 new infections.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported eight new cases, Nova Scotia had three and Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador each had two.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From now to November, WildsafeBC will be educating the public through its various programs in the community of Bella Coola. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bears are back, and so is WildSafeBC

Rae will be working hard to reach out to community members in new and innovative ways

Bella Coola’s new WildSafeBC co-ordinator, Rae Kokeš, has spent the last 10 years in Africa working in lion, human, conflict, and is a wildlife biologist by trade. (Photo submitted)
From the savannas of Africa to the Bella Coola Valley

New Wildsafe BC coordinator ready to tackle wildlife conflict

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

This will be the second year the Bella Coola Valley Rodeo won’t take place due to the pandemic. (Michael Wigle file photo)
Bella Coola Valley Rodeo cancelled for 2021

Club organizers say next year’s rodeo will be bigger and better than ever

Cameron Lang, (left) poses with his brothers Casey Lang and Colton Lang and their father Scotty Lang while volunteering at 100 Mile’s first Heavy Metal Rocks program in 2019. (Photo submitted)
Heavy Metal Rocks prepares alumni for professional world

Casey Lang got a new perspective from the class

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Former University of British Columbia student Stephanie Hale, 22. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett
Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan for ‘mishandling’ sexual assault report

Stephanie Hale did not return to campus after the student she alleges attacked her was cleared of wrongdoing

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman’s restaurant is located in the tiny community of Field, which relies on tourism

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Most Read