Ontario preps for eventual vaccine distribution as province reports 1,487 new COVID-19 cases


Ontario reported another 1,487 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, pushing the seven-day average to a new high as more regions move into the red "control" level of restrictions.

And, with news of a promising new COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Moderna, the provincial government offered its assurances that's it's preparing for a fair distribution of vaccines when they finally become available.  

"We do have an entire team at the Ministry of Health that is working on the plan for distribution," said Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott. 

"We also have ethicists in this group to make sure its distributed fairly and equitably."

Moderna says its vaccine, which is still being tested, appears to be 94.5 per cent effective against the virus. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective. 

Experts have pointed out that Canada still has major hurdles to overcome before it rolls out vaccines, including logistical challenges and a lack of data from the federal government to the provinces about what resources to expect.  

Guidelines for holidays coming soon

Elliott also promised that she'd have more to say soon on the government's recommendations for the holiday season when it comes to socializing with family and friends. 

She said she knows people want to gather with their loved ones, but said that "we may need to look at it a little bit differently this year." 

Premier Doug Ford also said at the same news conference that the minister of education is preparing a plan for this year's holiday break from schools, which will be revealed soon as well. 

There have been calls to lengthen the winter break or switch temporarily to online learning in the aftermath of it to prevent the virus from spreading in schools after holiday gatherings.  

In a separate news conference, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams painted a somewhat rosier picture than Elliott's prediction of a different kind of holiday season. 

"If we all do what we're supposed to do... we can get these numbers down," he said. "So you move from the red, to the orange, to the yellow and, I would like to think everybody would be in green, especially before the time of Christmas." 

Dr. Michael Warner, head of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, later told CBC he was "shocked that Dr. Williams thinks its possible" for everyone to get to green in just six weeks. 

"If he perceives things will get better by Christmas 2020 using the existing framework ... then I have a significant disagreement with his perspective," Warner said.