TORONTO — A first look of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine’s travels into Canada has been released days before the country is expected to receive its first shipment.
UPS Canada shared on Twitter what they claim are the “first images” of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being processed in Europe before it makes its way into the country.
“(First) images of the Pfizer vaccine being processed in Cologne, Germany for delivery to select sites in Canada next week. We are ready to make one of the most important deliveries in our 45 year history in Canada,” UPS Canada tweeted Friday evening.
The pictures show the vaccines carefully packaged in boxes, which are being loaded into UPS trucks for shipment.
The vaccines are being flown into the country in special boxes with thermal and location sensors. Pfizer’s vaccines must be kept at temperatures between -60C and -80C until just before injection or else the vaccines could be unusable.
Canadian officials expect the vaccines to arrive by Monday.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said the first shipment will include 30,000 doses with another 219,000 coming by Dec. 31. The vaccines will be distributed to the provinces on a per capita basis.
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine became the first to be approved in the country when Health Canada gave it the green light on Wednesday. This makes Canada the third country worldwide to approve the vaccine after the U.K. and the kingdom of Bahrain.
The Ontario government unveiled its three-phase COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan on Friday and confirmed 6,000 doses of the vaccines will be shipped to the province by Monday.
Premier Doug Ford also confirmed that the province will start administering the vaccines to health-care professionals on Tuesday, which has been dubbed “V-Day.”
Phase One of Ontario’s plan entails a pilot project, which will be conducted at two sites- University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital.
Both sites will receive 3,000 doses of the vaccine but will only administer 1,500 doses to health-care professionals. Chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force Retired Gen. Rick Hillier said half of the doses will be given to ensure those patients can take the required second dose 21 days later for full immunization.
“Given the sort of information flow and what we know about the supply, which is very little at this time, and the dates for when the next vaccine would arrive, which is zero, and those kinds of things, we decided it is better to err on the side of caution in the smaller case,” Hillier said during a press conference on Friday.
The provincial government said it expects to receive 90,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine by the end of December, which will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in the red “control” and grey “lockdown” levels of the province’s COVID-19 response framework.
Pfizer’s initial trials concluded the vaccine was effective at preventing COVID-19 in 95 per cent of patients and is only for use on people over the age of 16.
-With files from The Canadian Press