Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national coronavirus vaccine distribution effort, as country aims to immunise more than half of all Canadians by September, 2021.
Dany Fortin recently served as the chief of staff for the Canadian Joint Operations Command. He was also commander of the NATO military training mission in Iraq from November 2018 until last fall.
“Canadians can expect that if all goes well, to have more than half of us vaccinated by next September,” said the prime minister while speaking to reporters in the capital, Ottawa.
“Canada is well prepared for large-scale roll-outs of vaccines, but this will be the biggest immunisation in the history of the country,” said Trudeau.
“We must reach everyone who wants a vaccine no matter where they live.”
The global pandemic has surged in recent weeks across Canada, with regions putting stricter travel restrictions in place and closing non-essential businesses to curb the spread.
The province of Ontario – home to more than 14 million people – recorded 1,855 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, its highest single-day tally since the start of the pandemic, as well as 20 additional deaths linked to the virus.
Trudeau also spoke more about the government’s vaccine strategy of procuring up to 414 million doses from seven different pharmaceutical companies.
Because COVID-19 is a new disease and there are different approaches to tackling it, Canada wanted to keep its options open, he said.
“Some are going to work better than others, and some are going to be speed bumps along the way that cause extra challenges, and we knew that creating an array of opportunities for Canadians was one of the best ways of making sure that we would get through this the best possible way,” Trudeau said.