Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign kicked off in Ontario on Monday with the vaccination of a personal support worker in Toronto, which is still under lockdown as the province tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 464,000 Canadians.
Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker at the Rekai Centre in Toronto, received the first dose given in Canada.
Quebec, the hardest-hit province in the country, is expected to launch its own vaccination efforts later Monday after the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Canada Sunday.
Retired general Rick Hillier, who is leading Ontario’s vaccine task force, said the number of vaccinations that will take place in the province Monday is “probably pretty small,” but he said it’s still significant — especially for health-care workers and others who have been at the front line of the pandemic for months.
“This is V-Day,” he told CBC News Network early Monday, before the first dose was given.
‘This is V-Day’: Retired General Rick Hillier, head of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, gives us the details about the province’s roll out plan now that the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnn?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cbcnn</a> <a href=”https://t.co/Mfwjrpl5sw”>pic.twitter.com/Mfwjrpl5sw</a>
He said there will be challenges and problems ahead as the province works through what will eventually be a massive vaccination campaign.
“That’s exactly what we want — we want those problems and challenges because it means we’re on the way out of the abyss,” he told CBC’s Heather Hiscox.
Quebec’s first doses are expected to be given at long-term care homes, while Ontario has said that its first doses were set to be given at hospitals in Toronto and Ottawa.
The Donald Berman Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal will begin vaccinating staff and residents today. Lucie Tremblay is the Dir. of Nursing at the Regional Health Authority for Montreal Centre-West. She shows us how the Centre is ready to go as soon as doses arrive <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnn?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cbcnn</a> <a href=”https://t.co/GYgV6UWRgA”>pic.twitter.com/GYgV6UWRgA</a>
Ontario’s vaccination effort was initially expected to begin later in the week, but Hillier said that the Toronto effort would begin Monday.
“We don’t want to waste any time here,” he said.
Ontario is putting the required second dose aside for the first groups of people receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That system could change as the delivery protocol changes, but for now officials have said they want to ensure that all the people who receive the first vaccine will be able to access their second shot.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is handling the logistics of the vaccine rollout, said on Sunday morning that the delivery schedule is “unfolding exactly as planned.”
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says the shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on different flights and are being monitored every hour with UPS. Some shipments will be arriving on Sunday night and the rest in the coming day or two. <a href=”https://twitter.com/RosieBarton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RosieBarton</a> <a href=”https://t.co/ulhFPOX9h0″>pic.twitter.com/ulhFPOX9h0</a>
Fortin told Rosemary Barton, CBC’s chief political correspondent, that provinces confirmed they are ready at the 14 initial locations for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which needs to be kept at extremely cold temperatures.
“We’ve really walked this walk all together in the last several days,” he said, noting that everyone has been closely collaborating.
Ontario reported 1,940 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with 544 new cases in Toronto and 390 in Peel Region. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province completed nearly 57,100 tests.
The province also reported 23 additional deaths, bringing the death toll to 3,972.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Ontario increased to 857, with 244 people in intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.
Quebec reported 1,620 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 25 additional deaths. Hospitalizations rose to 890, with 122 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.
U.S. vaccination campaign underway
The largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history got underway Monday as health workers in select hospitals rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic.
“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” said critical case nurse Sandra Lindsay after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.
Shipments of precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech began arriving at hospitals around the country Monday.
The virus has infected more than 16.2 million people and killed nearly 300,000 people in the U.S., the hardest-hit country in the world.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 11:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 464,314 with 74,544 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,479.
Alberta reported 22 deaths and 1,717 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday as tight new public health restrictions came into effect across the province.
Alberta, which has now seen 719 deaths, has faced a steep climb in hospitalizations in recent weeks. As of Sunday, the province had 681 COVID-19 patients in hospital, including 136 in intensive care.
The additional restrictions that went into place on Sunday require some businesses — like bars and hair salons — to close down in-person service, while others must limit their capacity.
Dr. Darren Markland, an Edmonton ICU doctor, told CBC’s Rosemary Barton that he expects to get the vaccine this week.
“It brings a level of hope to the front-line workers that we were missing for a while there,” said Markland, who has spoken out about the strain on the province’s hospitals.
In Saskatchewan, health officials reported three additional deaths and 222 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. There were 117 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 23 in intensive care units.
Manitoba reported seven additional deaths and 273 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Health officials in the province reported 304 people in hospital, with 43 people in intensive care.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday.
There were no new cases reported in Yukon, or the Northwest Territories on Sunday.
British Columbia doesn’t provide updated COVID-19 data to the public over the weekend. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are expected to provide more details today about the limited availability of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine starting this week.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:25 a.m. ET
As of early Monday morning, there were more than 72.3 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide, with more than 47.3 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.
In COVID-19 vaccine news, family doctors in England are set to start COVID-19 inoculations this week, in the latest stage of the U.K.’s mass vaccination program. The National Health Service said hundreds of general medical clinics across England are taking delivery of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on Monday, and some will start offering the shots by the afternoon. The majority, though, will begin on Tuesday, it said.
Priority will go to people who are 80 and older, as well as staff and residents of care homes.
The first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine in the United States moved to distribution points around the country, while the EU weighed donating five per cent of its COVID-19 vaccines to poorer nations.
WATCH | U.K. doctors to begin vaccinations in their clinics:
Singapore, meanwhile, has become the latest country to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for pandemic use and expects delivery of the first shots by the end of December, its prime minister said.
German pharmaceutical company CureVac, meanwhile, said it has enrolled the first participant in the Phase 3 clinical study of its mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The Tuebingen-based company said the study is expected to include more than 35,000 participants at sites in Europe and Latin America.
In Africa, the government of Eswatini has announced on Twitter that Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini has died after testing positive for COVID-19. The 52-year-old Dlamini, who had been prime minister since 2018, announced in November that he had tested positive for the virus and was being treated at a hospital in neighbouring South Africa.
The Eswatini government said he died on Sunday afternoon. Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, has recorded almost 7,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 127 deaths.
South Africa is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 and President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the nation Monday evening on the country’s response.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea ordered schools to close from Tuesday in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas as it battles its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.
Malaysia’s Top Glove, the world’s biggest maker of medical-grade latex gloves, has seen its complex become the country’s biggest coronavirus cluster, months after it fired a whistleblower who photographed factory crowding.
In Europe, local officials in London have advised some schools to close and move to online learning as coronavirus cases rise rapidly in the British capital.
The advice from officials in north London’s Islington borough and southeast London’s Greenwich came as the capital and its surrounding areas face being moved into the highest level of COVID-19 restrictions as early as Monday. Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to update lawmakers later Monday.
Italy on Sunday registered 484 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, one of its lowest daily death tolls in about a month. But those latest deaths were enough to eclipse Britain’s toll as having Europe’s highest toll in the pandemic, according to tracking done by Johns Hopkins.
In the Americas, Los Angeles County has again broken a record for coronavirus hospitalizations, fulfilling the county public health director’s dire predictions in just days.
Figures released Sunday afternoon show that more than 4,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the nation’s most populous county.
That breaks the previous record set only the day before, with 3,850 patients in a hospital, and follows the trend of hospitalizations increasing nearly every day since Nov. 1.
The L.A. County health director warned last Monday, when hospitalizations were near 3,000, that the county could see the statistic climb to 4,000 within two weeks.
Statewide coronavirus figures were not immediately available Sunday. More than 325,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are on their way to California.
In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he has gone into isolation after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
It said Netanyahu himself was tested on Sunday and Monday, and that both tests came back negative. He will remain in isolation until Friday. Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials have periodically gone into isolation after possible exposure to the virus since the start of the pandemic.
Iran has reported more than 1.1 million cases of COVID-19, with more than 52,400 deaths.