Dr. Theresa Tam. (The Canadian Press)

Tam says feds, experts discussing COVID-19 vaccine orders amid concerns of delay

Conservative health critic Matt Jeneroux called on the Liberal government to end the delays

Active discussions are taking place to potentially pre-order COVID-19 vaccine doses for Canadians, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday.

She said an independent vaccine task force is advising the government on options for Canada’s choice of vaccine, including exploring the possibility of manufacturing a potential cure for COVID-19 at home.

Tam was addressing concerns that Canadians will have to get in line behind other countries to wait for the COVID-19 vaccine.

One senator and some health-care professionals are asking why Ottawa is delaying a decision on the $35-million pitch by Toronto-based Providence Therapeutics to begin human trials of a new, experimental vaccine technology that has been heavily funded in the United States.

Providence says it could deliver five million doses of a vaccine to Canadians by mid-2021 if its trials bear fruit, but it can’t move forward with testing or manufacturing without funding.

At a media briefing in Ottawa, Tam said the task force is an independent body comprised of “people who have been experienced in the areas of vaccination, infectious disease but also in the area of vaccine development and that sort of industry knowledge.”

She said the task force reports to Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains.

“Their role is to provide advice,” said Tam. “How the money is spent is up to the government itself.”

Conservative health critic Matt Jeneroux called on the Liberal government to end the delays.

“Under the Trudeau government’s watch Canada is falling behind in its research and securing a successful vaccine when we should be at the forefront of this health crisis, not lagging behind because of red tape and over regulation,” Jeneroux said.

“We expect the Trudeau government to provide a plan to tackle the delays slowing down Canada’s researchers and to outline what their government is doing to purchase treatments and vaccines for Canadians.”

Providence’s chief executive Brad Sorenson has told The Canadian Press he has yet to hear back from the government since late May after his company submitted its proposal in April, and after the government reached out to it as a possible vaccine-maker.

Health-care professionals have also written to Bains to urge him make up his mind on the April proposal.

Bains spokesman John Power has said he couldn’t comment on specific proposals but said the evaluation process is ongoing.

“Our government is committed to working on all possible fronts to deliver safe and effective treatments and vaccines against COVID-19 to Canadians,” Power added in a statement on Tuesday.

Tam said Canada is trying to negotiate access to a vaccine through a series of international channels as well as looking at viable options at home.

“There’s very active discussions with any promising candidate in terms of trying to get advanced purchasing agreements and those types of approaches done right now,” she said.

READ MORE: Top doctor says ‘upswing’ in Western Canada’s COVID cases is pushing the curve upwards

READ MORE: Health Canada approves remdesivir for treatment of severe COVID-19

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

Ellis Ross (left), BC Liberal party, celebrated with his wife, Tracey after being named the preliminary winner of the 2020 snap provincial election.
Ross presumptive Skeena winner in snap B.C. election

Election outcome will not be official until mail-in ballots are counted

Voting has officially closed throughout B.C. for the 2020 snap provincial election. (Clare Rayment)
Map of Skeena polling stations

Watch the updates on the map below as polling stations are counted throughout Skeena riding

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
Police situation leads to ‘hold and secure’ at North Okanagan school

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

The outbreak is the first within B.C.’s school system since classes resumed back in September

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE – B.C. Lions and Toronto Argonauts owner, Senator David Braley speaks after the CFL announced Vancouver will host the 2014 Grey Cup championship football game during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday March 8, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
BC Lions owner David Braley dead at 79

Braley had bought the CFL team prior to 1997 season

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Most Read