More doses of vaccine the answer

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Ideally, Canada would have enough COVID-19 vaccines on hand today to inoculate Canadians the way manufacturers recommend, with an initial dose followed by a second one several weeks later.

But at the moment, we don’t have enough vaccines to keep up with the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

For that reason, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has approved giving as many initial doses as possible to the most vulnerable Canadians immediately, rather than holding half of the vaccines in reserve for the second dose.

In practical terms, that means the second dose for some patients could be administered up to six weeks after the first, as opposed to the manufacturer’s recommendations of three to four weeks, depending on the vaccine.

Studies suggest the first dose is about 52 per cent effective in protecting people from the virus, rising to 95 per cent when the second or booster dose is administered, ideally three or four weeks later, depending on the vaccine.

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Distributing all the available vaccines immediately, rather than holding back half in reserve, is based on the current shortage and the assumption more vaccines will be delivered more quickly to Canada over time.

Is this an ideal situation? No.

It’s a risk-assessment decision based on the shortage of vaccines and the recommendation of immunization experts that, given the rapid spread of COVID-19, it’s better to give as many of the most vulnerable people some protection immediately.

In that context, it’s difficult to understand the point of Procurement Minister Anita Anand. She said earlier last week that some vaccine manufacturers are concerned Canada is not following the usage protocol they recommend.

Of course, they’re concerned — it’s not an ideal situation — but that’s not the issue.

The issue is whether that concern will translate into further delays of vaccine shipments to Canada by the manufacturers.

On that question, Anand didn’t answer, saying only that following the protocols, “is still a recommendation from the manufacturers that we are hearing at the table.”

Anand needs to clears up this issue with the vaccine manufacturers and focuses on her priority, which is to get as many vaccine doses delivered to Canada as quickly as possible.

The solution ending this pandemic is not more lockdowns and other restrictions, but in getting the vaccine to as many Canadians as quickly and efficiently as possible.

– Postmedia News

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