By Vicky Qiao—
The federal government will work to increase drug supply for COVID-19 treatment and keep researching vaccine candidates, said Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam Tuesday.
At the federal briefing, reporters asked about remdesivir, an antiviral medication used to treat
Canadians with severe COVID-19 symptoms. Dr. Tam said there is a very limited global supply of remdesivir from its company.
“I think the company will begin to accelerate its capacity, but the bottom line is that the supply is not plentiful,” she said. “So we will do what we can to get some of the supply for Canada.”
A CTV reporter voiced concerns regarding the adverse side effects of remdesivir during clinical trials. Tam said she is not familiar with the results of the ongoing clinical trials, but thinks the benefits outweighed the risk according to Health Canada’s review.
For those who are seriously ill, they might be more prone to the side effects because of their compromised organ systems, she said. “So that’s why I think this drug should be used and under those contexts of close monitoring.”
Meanwhile, the vaccine task force continues to work toward vaccine development. The task force consists of experts outside of the government who are experienced and knowledgeable in vaccination, infectious disease and the vaccine development industry, Tam said.
She said the government decides the spending put into vaccine research and development, but the task force will provide advice.
“I think one can appreciate that with over 100 and probably 20 candidates right now globally, with quite a number of them being Canadian candidates as well,” she said.
Tam said the government will be considering the effectiveness of the vaccines, the economic cost for Canada to get a vaccine later than some other major countries, as well as the domestic capacity and access to international innovations.
“The main objective is getting vaccines to Canadians as fast as possible that are safe and effective.”
Meanwhile, Canada is seeing an uptake in the national curve and it is a worrisome sign, Tam said. “The fate of the flattening of the curve is still within each of our hands.”
She said provincial and local jurisdictions will adjust safety measures in response to activities within their environment.
“We will try and reopen the social economic space as much as possible because we notice negative impacts,” said Tam. “But at the same time… if people don’t collaborate and support this effort, things could be tightened up again.”
After seeing last weekend’s crowds in the Niagara Falls region, Jennifer Hillhouse, a St. Catherines resident said she worries there will be an even bigger crowd this long weekend.
“I understand vacationers wanting a break from quarantine to choose Niagara as a destination for a long weekend trip because it’s an outdoor attraction,” said Hillhouse.
But having worked in the downtown tourist district, she said social distancing and air circulation would mean little with the heavily-populated sidewalks and huge lines at attractions.
“I wish people would think twice before endangering themselves and the lives of others just to go on a go-cart ride or eat ice cream.”.
With the long weekend ahead, Tam emphasized the importance to follow safety measures and avoid social gatherings. There is a greater risk to be in an unpredictable environment where you can’t control the actions of others, she said.
“Personally, I have to say that I have not ventured out at all.”