Canada has now given enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to cover 1 per cent of the population

TORONTO —
The number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Canada has surpassed one per cent of the country’s total population.

There had been 387,899 vaccinations given in Canada as of end-of-day Tuesday, according to data compiled by CTV News. That’s equivalent to 1.021 per cent of the population.

That does not mean more than one per cent of Canadians have been vaccinated, as some of those 378,899 vaccinations have been recipients’ second doses. The two vaccines approved for use in Canada both involve two shots, given weeks apart.

The one-per-cent milestone was achieved 29 days after the first vaccinations were administered in Canada.

At that pace, it would take 5,800 days to give every Canadians two doses of vaccine, meaning the final shots would be given in 2036.

However, politicians and public health leaders have vowed to speed up the process. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said repeatedly that his goal is to have vaccines administered to every Canadian who wants them by September, and that between 40 and 50 per cent of the Canadian population could be vaccinated by the end of June.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist affiliated with the University of Toronto, told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday that, while Canada has “picked up the pace” on vaccine deployment, he would like to see a speedier rollout.

“Yes, things are definitely better, but you cannot have vaccines sitting in freezers. This is a crisis. You’ve got to get these into arms as quickly as possible,” he said.

“It’s the middle of January. We should be a well-oiled machine at this point in time.”

The process could also be accelerated if Health Canada gives the green light to the vaccine candidate manufactured by Johnson and Johnson, which can be administered in one dose. The government has paid to secure up to 38 million doses of this vaccine candidate, should it be approved for use here. Any approval is likely at least several weeks off; the latest report is that the company may seek European lawmakers’ OK next month.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 548,950 doses of the two vaccines had been distributed as of Jan. 7. That means that just over 70 per cent of those doses had been administered as of Jan. 12.

The government expects to ramp up its distribution efforts over the coming weeks, forecasting hundreds of thousands of doses being given to provinces and territories weekly, rising to more than 600,000 doses by the last week of February.

Even with that increased pace, public health experts say it will take some time for the effects of the vaccination program to show up in daily COVID-19 case counts.

“If we are able to vaccinate everyone in long-term care in an expedited manner, we will start to see a reduction in deaths – and maybe we’ll start to see that as early as February,” Bogoch said, adding that the number of cases in the country could then start to decrease “as we enter spring.”

Canada’s vaccine rollout to date lags behind that of other major Western nations, according to Our World in Data. Even after adjusting for population, the United States has been able to vaccinate its citizens at 2.7 times Canada’s rate, while the United Kingdom has done so at more than four times our rate.