Good news is on the way for Saskatchewan residents, as the first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines is expected to arrive in the province today.
The first shipment is expected to vaccinate 1,950 people. A pilot of the province’s vaccine rollout will see the vaccine given at the General Hospital in Regina.
Phase one is expected to take place in early 2021 with about 202,000 doses to immunize those at a higher risk of exposure including health workers, care home residents, seniors over 80, and residents in northern remote communities.
Phase two is expected to take place in April of 2021 to continue immunizing those to high risk and begin vaccinations for those in the general population.
Dr. Hassan Masri is the department head for ICU and Trauma at the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.
He said trials were held in several different countries with about 22,000 people received the vaccine and 22,000 people received a placebo.
Of those who received the vaccine, about nine contracted COVID-19 and they only displayed mild symptoms.
“At the end of the trial, there was an efficacy meaning success rate in preventing patients from getting COVID-19 that was 95 per cent,” Masri said.
In contrast, there were 168 people who contracted COVID-19 that took the placebo.
Masri addressed reports that people who took the vaccine died. He said two people who took the vaccine died, but it was from and heart attack and a stroke and was not linked to COVID-19.
When it comes to vaccines, Masri said Health Canada has very high standards.
“If you had a vaccine and you had a medication that you wanted to be approved, Health Canada has so many more restrictions and a bar that’s much higher for a vaccine than a regular drug. In addition, Health Canada is one of the strictest organizations and institutions out there in approving vaccines.”