Canada has secured tens of millions of COVID-19 booster doses to contain the virus in the years ahead, and a new federal forecast is offering hope that summer could bring a reprieve from lockdown restrictions if 75 per cent of Canadians get their shot.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Pfizer has agreed to supply 35 million booster doses next year, and 30 million in the year after.
The deal includes options to add 30 million more in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024, Trudeau said, adding that his government is in talks with other vaccine manufacturers about their plans for follow-up shots.
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Boosters are expected to be an important part of long-term COVID-19 immunization as the virus continues to mutate, similar to how the flu shot is altered every year to be effective against the most dominant strain.
Meanwhile, Canada’s top public health doctor presented new modelling suggesting that a recent raft of restrictions may be reining in the variant-driven surge in infections, but said the outlook for summer hinged on the success of the vaccine rollout.
Dr. Theresa Tam said the projections suggest some hot-spot regions may be able to emerge from lockdown in time for people to take full advantage of the warm weather.
But for that to happen without overwhelming hospital capacity, at least 75 per cent of Canadian adults must receive their first shot, including 20 per cent who would be fully vaccinated.
In British Columbia, the government has moved to restrict non-essential travel between three regional health zones within the province.
Meanwhile, in Atlantic Canada, Halifax and surrounding municipalities are under a new series of restrictions aimed at curbing COVID-19 transmission, with Nova Scotians being urged to avoid all non-essential travel.
New Brunswick is tightening restrictions on travel to the province. All non-essential travellers to the province must isolate for 14 days. At least seven of those days must be spent in a government-designated hotel at a cost of about $200 a day.
Late Friday, Prince Edward Island announced new travel restrictions amid rising COVID-19 case counts in Atlantic Canada.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 1,164,587 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 86,355 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,883.
British Columbia reported 1,001 new COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths on Friday.
Ontario reported 4,505 new cases and 34 new deaths on Friday. There are 2,287 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 818 in ICU.
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Public Health Ontario reported Friday that 36 cases of the B1617 variant first identified in India, had been detected in the province.
On Friday, Ontario also saw its second case of a rare blood clotting condition after a man in his 60s received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Hamilton.
In Quebec, health officials reported 1,043 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 15 additional deaths.
The province is wading into uncharted territory as it plans to give some long-term care residents a different COVID-19 vaccine — in this case, Pfizer-BioNTech — for their second shot because of a shortage of the Moderna vaccine they first received.
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In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 44 new cases on Friday, while New Brunswick reported 16 new cases and Newfoundland and Labrador one new case. Officials in P.E.I. had not reported any new cases as of Friday evening.
Nunavut reported nine new cases on Friday. Two new cases were reported in both Yukon and Northwest Territories.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 181 new cases Friday and two additional deaths. Saskatchewan reported 245 new cases and one additional death.
Alberta reported 1,690 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and five new deaths.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 145.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than three million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, India reported the world’s highest daily count of COVID-19 cases for a third consecutive day on Saturday, with 346,786 new infections. The country’s health ministry reported another 2,624 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing total fatalities from the illness to 189,544.
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In the Middle East, Kuwait’s directorate general of civil aviation said early on Saturday in a tweet that it had suspended all direct commercial flights coming from India, effective April 24 and until further notice.
In the Americas, the American Museum of Natural History became one of New York City’s latest vaccination sites on Friday. People who get the vaccine the museum can rest up under its replica of a blue whale, which appears to float through the air.
In Europe, Russia reported 8,828 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, including 2,541 in Moscow, which took the national tally to 4,753,789 since the start of the pandemic.
Russia’s coronavirus crisis centre said 399 more deaths of coronavirus patients had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, taking the national death toll to 107,900.
In Africa, South Africa remains the hardest hit by COVID-19 among countries on the continent, with more than 1.5 million reported cases and more than 53,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
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