Canadian “Resistance” to COVID-19: The Vaccination Story So Far

COVID-19 test centres can be found in various locations around the city, including University of Waterloo. Photo contributed by Charlie Axton.

With COVID-19 having ravaged the globe for almost a year, news of a working vaccine is circulating widely. As nations all over the world race to successfully develop and implement their own respective vaccines, some countries have begun to purchase operational doses in order to speed up this process. Among them is Canada, where arrangements with several vaccine companies are already underway.

Much remains unconfirmed, a primary concern being the exact timing of vaccination and its eventual distribution among the general public.

A brief list of what is known and unknown about the vaccine has been compiled below:

What is Known

Canada has already approved a vaccine, made by the company Pfizer. It is hoped that widespread vaccination via Pfizer will begin in April, with limited use amongst priority groups:

  • The elderly, who are already at increased risk of serious health complications and death due to COVID-19.
  • Frontline healthcare workers (for instance, LTC staff) who are often in contact with the infected or those at risk.
  • Contacts of those particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Indigenous communities.
  • Those performing other essential services, such as police and firefighters. 

Any persons under the age of 16 are not yet approved to receive the vaccine.

There have been adverse reactions to this vaccine. Two British individuals have already reacted very intensely to Pfizer during rollout in the UK. However, they have been stated as having “previous histories of significant allergic reactions.” It is recommended that those with previous allergic reactions to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine do not receive it. 

The Pfizer vaccine includes:

Active ingredient in the form of a “nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein (S) of SARS-CoV-2”

Lipids / fats

  • (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis (ALC-3015)
  • (2- hexyldecanoate),2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide (ALC-0159)
  • 1,2-distearoyl-snglycero-3-phosphocholine (DPSC)
  • cholesterol

Salts

  • 0.01 mg potassium chloride
  • 0.36 mg sodium chloride
  • 0.07 mg dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
  •  0.01 mg monobasic potassium phosphate)

Sucrose (an extremely small amount of 6 mg)

The Pfizer vaccine is stated as having a 95 percent effectiveness rate, and no serious side effects.

The Moderna vaccine, an alternative to Pfizer, could soon also be green-lit for production. Final manufacturing data is expected before the end of this week.

We will receive 30,000 doses of Pfizer this week, and a further 200,000 next week.

Seven different vaccine companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, have signed agreements with Canada. This could mean a delivery of up to 414 million doses, if all goes according to plan.

Counterfeit coronavirus vaccines are being sold on the internet. It is strongly advised that you do not fall for or otherwise purchase them.

What is Unknown

It is unknown whether proof of vaccination will be required, similar to a proposed plan in the UK to use a phone app. This proof may subsequently be used to grant or deny entry to public spaces, such as bars or restaurants. This may also increase government intervention and/or surveillance to ensure rules are enforced and documents are legitimate.

As stated above, it is also unknown how soon the vaccine will actually be able to see widespread use. 

It is unknown whether there are any long-term adverse effects.

Which vaccine(s) will be the final choice to be used to vaccinate the population is still unknown.

The number of people who will be vaccinated by the end of this year, or 2021 is yet to be determined. 

The number of doses of vaccines that are necessary to develop full immunity is still uncertain and under research.

And, last but not least, it is unknown when life will ever return to normal.


More information about COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada can be found here:

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