In this May 25, 2020, file photo, a lab technician extracts a portion of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate during testing at the Chula Vaccine Research Center, run by Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Sakchai Lalit

How many Canadians will need to get vaccinated against COVID-19? Officials aren’t sure

Canada has secured contracts for four potential vaccines

Although Canada has secured four contracts for more 190 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines, health officials aren’t sure how many people will need to receive it.

Deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Tuesday (Sept. 1) that the level of vaccination to achieve community, or herd, protection varies by the disease.

“That’s still to be determined because the science is not clear on that yet,” Njoo said.

“For a very contagious disease like measles the vaccine uptake needs to be much higher to determine that level of community protection. We don’t know that yet for COVID-19.”

There are currently at least 128,948 total test positive cases of the virus in Canada, with more than 9,100 deaths.

For measles, the Canadian government has a goal of 95 per cent vaccination by 2025. According to John Hopkins University, early estimates of the virus’s infectiousness point to at least 60 to 70 per cent of the population needing to be vaccinated to achieve herd protection. A recent poll suggests that about 14 per cent of Canadians will not get the vaccine altogether, while nearly one-third will adopt a “wait and see” approach.

It’s also unclear how effective an eventual vaccine will be.

“International consensus is that we should at least look at vaccines that are around the 50 per cent vaccine efficacy mark,” chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said, echoing similar statements from other public health researchers.

“This means that an individual who was vaccinated would be 50 per cent less likely to get COVID disease—or whatever the particular endpoint is that’s measured in the trial—than individuals that weren’t vaccinated,” said Dr. Ruth Karron, who leads the Center for Immunization Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

But Canadian health officials were sure on one point; going for a herd immunity approach by letting the disease run through the population was not effective. Tam called it an “extremely difficult strategy” because of the potential for exponential growth that could overwhelm health-care systems.

“What we do know that even in the most [COVID-19] affected parts of the world, the level of population immunity seems quite low, so getting high enough vaccine uptake is going to be quite important,” Tam said.

Currently, Canada has agreements with Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna, if any of the four companies develop an effective vaccine. Any vaccine will have to be approved by Health Canada before Canadians can get it.

READ MORE: Canada signs deals with two suppliers for potential COVID-19 vaccines

READ MORE: 30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Kootenay teachers’ union going to labour relations board over COVID-19 related work conditions

Union issues open letter to premier, education minister, health minister and Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Two men killed in Hwy 3 collision west of Castlegar

The single-vehicle incident happened Thursday morning

Rec commission applies for grant for Castlegar Community Complex upgrades

Arena roof repairs and fitness centre expansion included in proposal

Central Mountain Air to offer flights out of Castlegar

The company will be offering Castlegar to Vancouver flights October 1.

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read