Canada's COVID-19 battle at a 'critical point': Vaccines aren't going to help us get out of the third wave immediately, Dr. Tam warns

Elisabetta Bianchini
·2-min read
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam attends a news conference, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 9, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, warned Canadians on Friday that "the race" between COVID-19 vaccines and variants is at a "critical point."

"The modelling prediction from two weeks ago that forecasts a resurgence is playing out in the data we are seeing now, with case counts plotting along the strong resurgence trajectory," Dr. Tam stressed at a press conference on Friday.

She went on to say that stronger controls are needed to combat variants of concern and slow the epidemic growth, explaining that these controls should reduce contacts and mobility as people try to stay home as much as possible.

"Even as vaccines are bringing us closer to end this crisis, we cannot afford to give this virus an inch," Dr. Tam said. "It’s not too late. Right now, put the brakes on, get this curve under control, and get the vaccines up and running."

"Vaccines are not going to be able to help with...flattening that curve this immediately. We’ve got a long way to go in the vaccine program so don't squander that opportunity and put on the brakes now."

Trudeau knows Canadians 'don't want to be in this third wave'

At the press conference on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recognized the "frustration, the anxiety, the concern" that Canadians have as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.

"I think we’re all recognizing that we don't want to be in this third wave, but we’re here," Trudeau said. "We’ve been working very closely with the provinces and territories to ensure that they have the supports necessary to make the right decision for their jurisdictions."

"This third wave is more serious and we need to hang in there for another few weeks to make sure that we can flatten that curve, drop those numbers down again to give a chance for vaccines to take hold and to allow us to get to what will hopefully be a much more normal summer by the time the weather turns really nice."

When asked if Canada should have organized more specifics timelines for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the country, the prime minister stressed that there were no COVID-19 vaccines a year ago.

"We would have loved to have more vaccines much quicker but let’s remember...that there were no vaccines against COVID-19 a year ago," Trudeau said. "These are brand new developments that the scientific community, the international community experts have worked on incredibly hard over the past many months."

"The challenge of developing a safe and effective vaccine is one, the second challenge is producing that vaccine at a scale that is going to make a difference around the world."