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Provincial Health Officer on COVID-19 vaccines 95% effectiveness

Despite the Province of B.C. seeing record numbers of COVID-19 cases just about daily, there is some good news COVID-19 news on the horizon.

It was announced on Wednesday that Pfizer, and German company BioNTech, have developed a vaccine which is 95 per cent effective.

The announcement comes a week after Pfizer release some early promising results from Phase 3 of its trails, which involved more than 43,000 volunteers. The announcement also comes a day after Moderna announced that its experimental vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective.

Pfizer and BioNTech expect to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

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Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that though there is hope for the vaccines, people still need to keep safe.

“We are optimistic that a vaccine could be available in early 2021 to add to the tools British Columbia has to stop this pandemic and keep people safe. Until then, British Columbians need to focus on the actions we know work – keeping our social circles small, practicing good hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance or wearing a mask when you can’t.”

Henry said overall; they are excited that there might be two vaccines available within months or even weeks.

“The federal government has a contract with both of these companies, both Pfizer and Moderna, to receive vaccine here in Canada, and what we are planning for is early in the next year, in the new year, to be able to start distributing that vaccine.”

Henry said that they are working on how they will roll out the vaccine and some of the logistical challenges that come with both vaccines.

“The Pfizer vaccine, for example, needs ultra-low temperature, and there’s a whole delivery system for how that will work, and it’s a bit of a fussy vaccine in terms of the dose that it’s getting and how it’s reconstituted. So, that means that certain vaccinators will have to deliver that vaccine,” she said. “The Moderna vaccine also requires freezer temperatures, which is a little easier. We do have quite a few of those freezers (-20) and can be delivered in slightly different ways.”

Henry said that are still some key questions that still need to be answered, but they are working to have them answered.

“I think it’s a really positive thing for all of us. It’s going to make a difference. It’s not going to be a light switch where we’re going to be able to go back and never wash our hands again. That will never change, but it will give us an opportunity to start by protecting those who are most at risk, protecting people in our health care system.”

She added that she is confident that by this time next year, they will have a vaccine available for anybody in British Columbia.

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