Canada administered its first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, becoming one of the first countries to do so in the effort to beat back the pandemic. Five front-line workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto's hospitals.
Anita Quidangen, a personal support worker who worked throughout a Covid-19 outbreak at the Rekai Centre nursing home in Toronto, got the first dose. "This is a victory day for science," said Dr Kevin Smith, president and CEO of Toronto's University Health Network. "Here we are today breaking the back of this horrible virus."
More of Canada's initial 30,000 doses of the vaccine are expected to cross the border on Monday. The Canadian government recently amended its contract with Pfizer and BioNTech so that it would deliver up to 249,000 doses this month. Ontario received 6,000 doses of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday night and plans to give them to approximately 2,500 health-care workers.
"I'm thrilled to see the first Pfizer vaccine being administered in Ontario. It's time to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic," Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted. Residents of two long-term care homes in Quebec will be the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in that province. People in Britain and the United States are also starting to receive coronavirus vaccines.
The encouraging developments come as the coronavirus continues surging across much of the world. Canada has contracts with six other vaccine makers and is currently reviewing three other vaccines, including one by Moderna that Canadian health officials said could be approved soon.
Canada has ordered more doses than needed for Canadians but the government eventually plans to donate excess supply to impoverished countries.