Vaccine stocks will be limited until April, says Dr Shahab

New cases of COVID-19 have fallen, but that could be due, in part, to at least people being tested during the holidays. Vaccinations are being rolled out, but it will be several months before they are truly widespread in distribution.

These are some of the messages presented by Health Minister Paul Merriman and Saskatchewan Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Saqib Shahab on December 30 as they took stock of the COVID-19 pandemic during the ‘one of their regular Legislative Assembly briefings in Regina.

Merriman said, “Our new case count and Saskatchewan have continued to decline over the past week. This may in part be due to at least people being tested over the Christmas holidays. But the new numbers of cases have definitely moved in the right direction over the past two weeks. On December 12, the seven-day average of new cases peaked at 292. Today, the seven-day average has fallen to just over half that number at 152, and the number of active cases has fallen to below 3,000, for the first time since November. 24. These numbers of cases are still much higher than we would like, but they are moving in the right direction.

“The restrictions we have in place are working,” he said, thanking everyone in Saskatchewan for continuing to follow all public health orders and guidelines, especially during the holiday season.

On that day, Saskatchewan reported 147 new cases of COVID-19, three deaths, 151 people in hospital and 378 recoveries.

Merriman suggested the federal government should notify the province of upcoming vaccine quantities, saying, “Our immunization program has been going well so far. This is still a relatively small number of vaccines that we have received from the federal government. We expect the federal government to begin receiving and distributing more vaccines, certainly in the new year. We are trying to get a clear indication from the federal government, how many vaccines it will send us each week, in order to better plan the next steps in our distribution process. This is a difficult vaccination program to set up, given the complexity. The scale and differences in storage and transport required for different types of vaccines; Saskatchewan is fully prepared to take on this challenge. But we need the federal government to provide more clarity than it has provided on how many doses of vaccine we will receive over the next few weeks.

Shahab said Saskatchewan had just completed the second week of vaccination. In Regina, 1,834 vaccines were administered out of 1,950 received. The rest will be concentrated on staff from two long-term care homes in Regina. In Saskatoon, 3,900 doses were initially administered on December 21, followed by 975 doses this week, of which a total of 1,108 have been administered to date. Prince Albert will receive his 3,900 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine on January 4.

Going forward, 6,825 doses of Pfizer are expected to arrive each week on January 11, 18 and 25. Saskatchewan has five ultra-low temperature freezers capable of reaching the -70 ° C required to store Pfizer vaccine, and four more ultra-low temperature freezers are expected to be used across Saskatchewan. This will allow this vaccine to be used for healthcare workers, long-term care residents and personal care in more geographic areas.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to arrive on December 31, with 4,900 doses. These will be allocated to the far north, central and far northwest regions, which had the highest “attack rates” in the province. Half of the initial production will take place during initial deployment, as logistics are rolled out. If things happen with additional shipments, those doses can be released instead of being saved as a booster shot 28 days later.

Moderna vaccinations are expected to begin the weeks of January 4 and January 11, focusing on long-term care residents, residents of personal care homes, staff associated with those facilities, and healthcare workers caring for them. COVID-19 services, testing and evaluation.

Shahab noted that provinces’ expectations for Moderna vaccine volumes are limited until April. “The supply from Pfizer is more stable and we are receiving weekly allocations from Pfizer,” he said. “Moderna, we get smaller shipments every two weeks in January and February, then we’ll get most of it in March.”

Those first two months can see between 3,000 and 5,000 doses per shipment through March, he said, but that is subject to change. The Moderna vaccine is easier to transport, especially for the far north.

For the general public, Shahab said vaccine stocks are very limited until April, when there will be more Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available. AstraZeneca’s vaccine was approved on December 30 in the UK, and Canada has ordered it as well. Canada has entered into negotiations with seven manufacturers.

In April, he said, “That’s when the younger age groups and with underlying health issues initially and then for the general population, I would say, starting in June. , July.

Saskatchewan still has a positive test rate of between 7% and 9%. 100, he said, pointing out that there is still some concern about this. Hospitalizations have remained stable, but will watch an increase in January.

Saskatchewan has not seen any cases of the UK variant of COVID-19 so far. Shahab said the six cases in Canada have all been directly linked to travel or to someone who has traveled. If they were found to be unrelated, that would be more worrying. He noted that the federal government required a two-week quarantine and before leaving for Canada, a COVID-19 test may be required.