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Canada preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccine this month

Canada preparing to administer COVID-19 vaccine this month
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The Canadian government announced on Tuesday it would be receiving a quarter of a million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine next week.

“The Government of Canada is delivering on its commitment to ensure that Canadians have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible,” read a news release from Public Services and Procurement Canada.

“The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced today that following successful negotiations, Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, contingent on Health Canada authorization of the vaccine,” it added.

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This news comes two weeks after Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauBiden strikes optimistic tone in meeting with Mexican president White House: US will help Mexico after Americans vaccinated The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run MORE said Canadians would likely have to wait until 2021 to receive the first doses of a vaccine, citing the fact that most manufacturers are located outside Canada and would want to give the first round of doses to the countries they operate in.

Trudeau said on Monday that immunizations could begin as early as next week. 

"There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in terms of which vaccines were going to arrive first. ... We wanted not to get people’s hopes up," Trudeau told reporters, appearing to address the sudden change in expected vaccine arrival.

“The Government of Canada continues to do everything possible to protect Canadians from COVID-19,” said Anand. “This includes securing the world’s most extensive portfolio of vaccines and taking all necessary measures to ready the country to receive doses once they are authorized for use.”

Canada has not yet authorized any coronavirus vaccines for use, but with Pfizer’s vaccine already approved in the U.K., the U.S. and Canada are likely to follow suit, with reports that Pfizer's vaccine could be authorized in the U.S. by the end of this week.

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"Pfizer submitted an application for regulatory review of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate under Health Canada’s interim order on October 9, 2020. Results of this review are expected soon," said the release. 

According to the news release, "logistical tests" with Pfizer are planned to take place, rehearsing how the vaccine orders will be placed, shipped, packaged and delivered. Pfizer's vaccine requires extreme subzero temperatures in order to remain effective. Special packaging using dry ice was developed specifically for the vaccine.

If the vaccine reaches the temperature of a normal home refrigerator, it must be used within four to five days or be discarded. Each vial contains about three doses.

Canada has reportedly prepurchased millions of vaccines from various manufacturers, enough to immunize its entire population several times over. According to the release, the country has vaccine deals with six other companies, including Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

Canada has also bought 126 freezers to store the vaccine, said the release, with 26 of the freezers being ultralow-temperature freezers to store Pfizer's vaccine.

The country is also reportedly in talks to donate extra doses to low-income countries, a move that some experts have said is not enough, with front-line workers needing to receive the vaccine as quickly as possible regardless of what country they live in.