Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday in his first address of the new year that he was “frustrated” by the slow pace of COVID-19 inoculations across Canada, three weeks into a vaccination campaign.
The Canadian government has so far distributed 424,500 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines — the only ones authorized to date in Canada — to its provinces and territories responsible for the vaccination program, according to official figures.
But only about 148,000 doses of vaccine have been administered so far, according to local media.
“I think all Canadians, including me are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms,” Trudeau told a news conference.
Trudeau is scheduled to speak Thursday with provincial and territorial leaders to discuss “how the federal government can support and help in getting these vaccines more quickly to Canadians,” he said.
The ultimate goal, he said, was to “get vaccines to every Canadians who wants them by September.”
Canada has placed orders and secured options for more than 400 million doses of vaccines from seven pharmaceutical firms, for its population of 38 million.
The pace of infections has accelerated since the Christmas holidays, with more than 5,600 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 617,065 and more than 16,000 deaths.
Quebec, one of the hardest-hit provinces, reportedly plans to impose a new lockdown starting on Saturday, on the heels of strict measures ordered last month to slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness.
According to the daily La Presse, citing unnamed government sources, Quebec public health officials who are concerned hospitals may be overwhelmed are also pressing for a curfew.