VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The premier assured B.C.’s immunization efforts are still going forward as planned, despite countries that produce vaccines for Canada moving to restrict exports.
India is temporarily holding off on major exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute — the largest vaccine producer in the world — to meet domestic demand. However, Canada is still expecting 1.5 million doses of the AstraZenca vaccine from that facility.
Premier John Horgan said Wednesday he has received word from the prime minister’s office that scheduled shipments of Pfizer and Moderna from Europe as well as AstraZeneca from India will not be affected.
“I guess this is just another day at the office, quite frankly. We’re in the hands of international suppliers. We’ve known this for some time, we’ve acknowledged it and we’re working through it,” he said.
Horgan said going forward, this highlights the need to ensure B.C. and Canada have the ability to produce pharmaceuticals domestically.
“How can we be better prepared from this happening again and that is not just in terms of providing therapeutics or providing vaccines but providing a whole host of good and services that British Columbians can and should be able to produce right here,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concerns that the European Union has also adjusted its export controls on COVID-19 vaccines.
“We continue to work very closely with officials of both countries, ensuring that the promised doses continue to flow at this point. We have no indication that two million doses we will be receiving from the Serum Institute over the coming two months will be affected, and we will continue to ensure that that be the case,” he said Wednesday.
Trudeau says his government is in contact with European officials to ensure the changes don’t impact vaccine deliveries from there to Canada.
In B.C., people aged 75 and up are able to book vaccine appointment, while front line workers, including teachers and clinically vulnerable, are now eligible
Tourism, hospitality workers helping out at vaccination sites
Horgan also announced about 1,400 furloughed tourism and hospitality workers will be doing non-clerical staff work at vaccination sites.
“I just want to say that it is with the assistance of these workers, as well as the countless volunteers that have been stepping up to say, ‘How can I participate in the end of COVID-19 in my community?'”
— Lasia Kretzel (@lkretzel1130) March 24, 2021
Horgan says this will help employ many people who lost their jobs in the hard-hit sectors when the pandemic first began.
Some of the companies working with the province’s vaccine rollout include Air Canada, Westjet, the Vancouver International Airport, and the PNE.
Wednesday’s COVID-19 update
B.C. reported 716 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday, bringing the total to 93,969 since the pandemic began.
Three more people have died because of the virus, for 1442 deaths.
The province reported 71 new cases of variants of concerns, with 148 still active and a total of 1,581 cases.
Of the 303 patients in the hospital because of the virus, 85 are in intensive care.
As the vaccination rollout continues, 582,634 doses have been given so far, with 87,180 being second doses.
“We have seen much progress in recent weeks. The timing for our age-based program has been accelerated, front-line workers will soon be immunized and now, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable with complex and challenging health conditions will also be able to get immunized,” reads a joint statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
-with files from Tarnjit Parmar, Cormac Mac Sweeney, Hana Mae Nassar and the Canadian Press