Dr. Theresa Tam. (The Canadian Press)

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

‘Nanaimo’ will be spelled out in five-foot-tall letters upon a slab of concrete overlooking Swy-a-Lana Lagoon at Maffeo Sutton Park. (Greg Sakaki/The News Bulletin)
Five-foot-tall letters spelling out ‘Nanaimo’ coming to Maffeo Sutton Park

$50,000-project expected to be installed by the end of April

A Nanaimo man will serve nine months in jail for the sexual assault of a young girl he admitted to having committed more than 40 years ago. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo man sentenced for sexually abusing girl more than 40 years ago

Man, now 71, gets nine-month sentence for abuse of friend’s daughter

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo teen arrested a day after allegedly assaulting and bullying victim

Teen taken into custody after wielding weapon and threatening driver at scene of car crash

‘We Are All Beautiful’ by Elise Cole and ‘The Modern Thrall’ by Enigye (Happy) Amarkah (from left) are two of the pieces featured in VIU’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival. (Images courtesy the artists)
Vancouver Island University holds first Anti-Racism Arts Festival

Three-day online event to feature visual arts, performance, film and poetry

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photo courtesy Ella Smiley)
Orcas near the beach thrill whale watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photo courtesy Ella Smiley)
Orcas near the beach thrill whale watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 2, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. NDP ministers defend ‘air tax,’ latest COVID-19 business aid

Empty home tax doesn’t apply to businesses, but space above them

In Ontario, COVID-19 vaccine clinics have been set up at local mosques. (Submitted photo: Rufaida Mohammed)
Getting the vaccine does not break your fast, says Muslim COVID-19 task force

Muslim community ‘strongly’ encouraging people to get their shot, whether or not during Ramadan

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Police: mental health crisis likely in car driven through Saanich Walmart wall

Man in his early 20s drove through a parkade wall, no serious injuries reported

A plane is seen through the window on the tarmac of Vancouver International Airport as the waiting room is empty. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
100+ international travellers who landed in B.C. refused to quarantine

The Public Health Agency of Canada says it issued $3,000 violation tickets to each

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
PHAC receives first report of blood clot linked to AstraZeneca

The federal agency says the person is now recovering at home

The Campbell River Gun Club outdoor range is located on Argonaut Road west of Campbell River. CRGC/Facebook photo
Campbell River Gun Club range shut down after complaints of stray bullets

Neighbour says bullets hit caretaker’s RV and shattered a glass panel on his deck

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Green Point Campground saw an unprecedented flurry of reservations last week. (Pacific Rim National Park Reserve photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve campground sees ‘unprecedented’ interest

Reservations being accepted as Green Point Campground scheduled to open May 1

Restaurant owners Oura and Kymon Giakoumakis visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PODCAST: COVID-19 pandemic hits Island’s food service industry hard

Pair of Vancouver Island restaurant owners share thoughts and advice

Most Read