Seeking to reassure Canadians who are frustrated about the pace and scale of the national COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that people should not be worried about the “noise” surrounding the campaign, because the government remains “on track” to meet its targets.
After a promising December start, Canada’s vaccine campaign has recently been plagued by delays and now it’ll be mid-February before shots are going in arms at the rates prepared for.
Facing reduced shipments because Canada is at the mercy of major international pharmaceutical companies, the federal government has been under the microscope for several weeks now.
On Friday, Trudeau described it as “turbulence,” and said he knows that while thousands of Canadians are experiencing relief knowing someone they love is in the process of being immunized, millions of Canadians are still waiting their turn and are watching the ups and downs with concern.
“I hear it from all Canadians right now… They want to know when they can go back to everything they’ve done before… When the vaccines are going to come? That’s why there’s a lot of anxiety and there’s a lot of noise going on right now,” Trudeau said during his Rideau Cottage address.
He said he wants Canadians to know that in the months ahead the mass vaccination campaign will ramp up.
“I know how tired we all are. I know how anxious we are to see our loved ones safe, to see life returning to normal. We feel it too,” he said. “We are still very much on track.”
The prime minister said that he’s recently spoken with Pfizer and Moderna and they have committed to sending their promised combined six million doses by the end of March, and still plan on sending 20 million doses over the spring.
“I speak almost every week with CEOs of these vaccine companies, and they have assured me that they will meet their obligations,” Trudeau said, adding that the government is planning on additional vaccine candidates becoming available as Health Canada approves them.
The next two shots in line for potential regulatory approval are the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Summer will come, and it will be better than this winter, Trudeau said in French. “We will get everyone vaccinated by September.”
The prime minister also sought to defend his government’s decision to dip into the supplies from global vaccine-sharing effort known as COVAX, seeing Canada’s set to receive a minimum of 1.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of June, on top of the 20 million doses Canada secured access to independently.
“Our contribution was always intended to access vaccine doses for Canadians, as well as to support lower income countries,” Trudeau said.