- Sure, sure. Thanks again for having me, Kim. It certainly is important news. Being able to manufacture and be able to distribute our own vaccines is, of course, very important. Now, this will probably happen tail end of the year, and we're hoping to vaccinate our entire population by September. So is it going to help with this initial round of vaccinations? Probably not. Is it going to be helpful as we look to the future, as we think about how variants are affecting this pandemic? Certainly. We may need a booster. We may need an update in terms of our shots that we're receiving. And even as we plan for future pandemics, this is an important step for us as a country. So it's welcomed. I'm happy to see it.
Of course, the best case scenario is that we get everyone vaccinated rapidly and there's no changes in some of the sequencing and some of the variants, and they're covered by our current vaccines, and we get this great scenario. And we never need it. And that's a great thing. And that's what pandemic planning and public health planning is all about. Hopefully you never need to use a lot of the measures that we put in place. But it's certainly a necessary step for our country, and I'm happy to see that.
- Yeah, hope for the best and plan for the worst, that's always the best thing to do. Let me ask you about the vaccines that we do know are, obviously, not being manufactured in Canada, but coming to us. We've got delays in both Pfizer, in the Moderna vaccines coming out. Those are the only two, I believe, that have been approved in Canada so far. Are we still going to make it in time to talk about some of the original timelines of getting everybody vaccinated by September?
- Sure. I think the short answer is yes. Certainly, these delays are not good news. It's not something we want to see. We want to be able to vaccinate people as fast as possible, of course. Now, Canada's purchased a tremendous number of vaccines, so we have enough vaccines to vaccinate the country five or six times. And even with just the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines, we have enough to vaccinate our entire population.
Now, the key point here is that, yes, we are delayed. Now the plan is that there's supposed to be a catch up. So by the end of Q1, we're supposed to be at the same place where we were before. So we're still on target to vaccinate people by September.
Personally, I think it's very important that we really spend this time to think about our plan on how we are going to vaccinate people. We have to work with a sense of urgency in terms of getting the vaccine in people's arms. So this concept of, once it gets on Canadian soil, or wherever it needs to be, and ready for distribution, into people's arms. Let's count it in terms of minutes, and make up for some of this lost time that we've had because of the supply issues, and really focus on that concept of getting it into people's arms as fast as we can.
- What about the variance? That's one thing, I think people hear it, and I believe, and I know you'll correct me if I'm wrong, we're hearing positive things about these vaccines are still very effective against these new variants we're seeing from the UK, from South Africa, from Brazil. But can you just tell us your sense on that and what we should be listening for?
- Sure. It's a great question and it's certainly a concern that we're hearing and that we're seeing. Viruses mutate. That's what happens when they replicate. They try to evade host systems. That's sort of part of the process. It's what we expect.
Many of these mutations don't cause any concerns. But once in a while, a series of mutations will reach what we call a variant, or variant of concern, right? So we have three of them that we know about that seem to be significant in our society today. The UK variant, the South African variant, and the Brazil variant.
The UK one, we know that it spreads faster. There's pretty conclusive evidence that it's more infectious, this strain is. Now, in terms of mortality, it does appear there might be a little bit more mortality. We're still learning a little bit more on the data there. But there is potential for that to be the case. But it does seem to be covered by the vaccines that are out there right now, which is very encouraging. And that is, again, aside from our typical, what we call wild type, the original strain, one of the more predominant ones.
Now, the South African one, in terms of its ability to evade our current vaccines, we're seeing that there is some efficacy of our vaccines on it, which is encouraging. Is it as good as our, again, wild type strain? It doesn't appear it's quite as good. But again, we're comparing to a 95% efficacy rate, which is excellent. So if we get something in the 60 range, it's not terrible.
And again, there's a lot more data. There's more vaccines that are going to be coming out. And of course, we can always learn to sort of update our vaccines to find new targets, et cetera. So, you know, we haven't seen a full vaccine escape there, as we call it, which is an encouraging sign.
But the other one is the virus in Brazil. So this one is a little bit more concerning. We're still learning a lot more. There's a city in Brazil that previously, around this past summer, about eight months ago, seemed to have around 70% of the population that had been infected. And that population now seems to be in crisis again. So they've been potentially reinfected. Of course, there's some layers we're still pulling away on that. But there's the new strain down there, and that could be because of the strain sort of, what we call having vaccine escape.
So it's a little bit concerning. But it also could be simply that there was waning immunity from the natural infection, and that could have been with any strain. So there's still things that we're learning about that. But it's a little bit concerning. The encouraging sign is that we made our initial vaccine very quickly and we will find ways to update our vaccines to potentially handle some of these new strains that come up.
It's also important to note that typically vaccines offer more immunity than sort of a natural infection that somebody gets. So there's still a chance that we will get some coverage from some of these vaccines as we learn more.