Canadian officials on Friday said Ottawa is doing things differently when it comes to vaccinating citizens against the coronavirus disease and making plans for a post-pandemic reopening compared to the United States.
Canadian health officials have drawn considerable criticism for delaying the time between vaccinations for up to four months, in spite of the manufacturers’ recommended timelines between shots - 21 days for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 28 for the Moderna vaccine.
“The science is finding that that delay is actually helping people mount an even stronger immune response, this was the underpinning of [the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations’] NACI’s recommendation,” Health Minister Patty Hajdu said during a press briefing. “I want to say thank you to the Canadians, who have come along with us on this approach, that, yes, does differ from our American cousins.”
In contrast, the United States has adhered to the manufacturers’ recommended timelines between shots and in March, Cole Pinnow, the president of Pfizer Canada, told a parliamentary committee that Pfizer was not consulted before the decision to delay the time between doses was made and that the company sticks by its directions label.
Canada’s chief medical officer said that Ottawa is also taking its time with its post-pandemic reopening plans.
“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States and maybe a little more similar to that of the United Kingdom,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during a press briefing, noting that further guidance and decisions on public health measures would be governed by ongoing modeling and projections at Canada’s health authorities.
Canada’s Public Health Agency released its guidance for lifting restrictions in the short-term, the summer and the fall on Friday. According to the agency, if Canadians hit the government’s target of having 75 percent of Canadians vaccinated with the first dose and 25 percent vaccinated fully by the summer, then citizens would be able to enjoy outdoor recreational activities including, camping, hiking and picnics.
Notably, comparisons show that the guidelines for this summer are not significantly different from those in place last summer, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's vow that Canadians will be able to enjoy a “one dose summer” while the United Kingdom is well on its way along the government’s roadmap out of the COVID-19 lockdown.
By contrast, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidance for fully vaccinated people on Thursday, allowing indoor and outdoor activities of any size without wearing a face mask.