Dr. Henry confident vaccines will be in use in 2021

While there’s been encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines, the provincial health officer cautioned “we have a ways to go to get there” and asked that everyone step back and continue adhering to public health measures in the coming months to protect themselves and others from the novel coronavirus.

B.C.’s provincial health officer expressed excitement over the progress of two COVID-19 vaccines in production, saying she is confident there will be a vaccine available for all British Columbians by this time next year.

On Monday (Nov. 16), Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective, at about 90 per cent — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S.

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Dr. Bonnie Henry said she is excited to hear there might be two vaccines available within weeks or months, noting the federal government has contracts with both Pfizer and Moderna to distribute their vaccines.

She said the plan across the country is to begin distributing vaccines early in 2021, starting with the target populations who will benefit most from receiving a vaccine. She said the province is working on the logistics of vaccine distribution, noting that both need to be kept in cold temperatures.

“We are working on all of those details,” Henry said.

Pfizer’s vaccine needs to be kept in extremely cold temperatures (minus 70 C), while Moderna’s vaccine needs to be stored in temperatures of minus 20 C.

Henry said the protocol for distributing the vaccines is not yet known and will depend on the vaccines being licensed for use in Canada and for whom they will work best.

“That is something that we are spending quite a bit of time working on,” she said.

Henry said a COVID-19 vaccine will make a difference, though it won’t be a “light switch” solution.

“It will give us an opportunity to start by protecting those who are most at-risk, protecting people in our health-care system and then, I am confident, by this time next year, we will have vaccine available for anyone in British Columbia,” she said.

While there’s been encouraging news about COVID-19 vaccines, Henry cautioned “we have a ways to go to get there” and asked that everyone step back and continue adhering to public health measures in the coming months to protect themselves and others from the novel coronavirus.

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