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Feds prepare for influx of COVID-19 vaccines, say Q1 targets will be met

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OTTAWA – Canada is seeing positive signs that the COVID-19 vaccination campaign is ramping up, health officials said on Thursday, a development that could help relieve pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Critics, seizing on data that show Canada trailing many other nations in the total number of inoculations, accuse Trudeau’s Liberal government of bungling the rollout. Ottawa, which buys the doses, blames temporary supply problems that it says are being ironed out.

Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said more than 240,000 doses had been injected last week, the highest weekly total in more than a month. Canada’s 10 provinces and three northern territories administer the vaccines.

“We are seeing positive signs that the rollout is ramping up…this is a reflection of greater supply,” he told a briefing, saying around 2.9 per cent of Canadians have received at least one dose.

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“We expect this percentage to significantly increase throughout March,” he added.

On Thursday, officials released figures for how many doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine should arrive in the country in the coming weeks. In total, the drugmakers are expected to meet their combined target of six million doses to Canada by the end of March.

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Moderna — which ships supply at 3-week intervals — is expected to deliver 460,000 doses the week of March 8, and 846,000 doses the week of March 22.

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Pfizer is expected to deliver 444,000 doses per week in March, increasing to 769,000 doses in each of the first two weeks of April.

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Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin outlined details of the new figures and said the country is preparing to “scale-up” its vaccination efforts with tens of millions of doses expected in late spring and summer.

Canada has so far recorded a total of 21,807 deaths and 855,126 cases of COVID-19.

— Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Alistair Bell. With files from Global News

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