A senior general in the Canadian Armed Forces will lead Canada’s effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as the government faces pressure over the unprecedented medical logistics undertaking and unanswered questions about when exactly the first doses will arrive.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin on Friday. Fortin, chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command, will oversee a new operations and logistics center within the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Fortin will be responsible for overseeing the logistics of getting the vaccines to Canada’s provinces. The Canadian Armed Forces also will support the effort itself.
“The Canadian Armed Forces will assist in planning, including to meet challenges like cold storage requirements, data sharing and reaching indigenous and rural communities,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau’s government has come under increasing pressure to give delivery dates as the U.S. prepares to distribute the first doses of COVID vaccines perhaps in as little as two weeks. Officials and public procurement documents point to the first vaccines arriving in January.
While the Canadian government has preordered or secured access to more than 400 million doses of multiple vaccine candidates, it’s not clear when they will arrive. They include the most promising candidates manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, both U.S. companies.
It was not clear if the greater role of the military will change the anticipated role of logistics providers. The Canadian government recently prequalified companies including FedEx, UPS, McKesson and Kuehne + Nagel to bid on an expansive COVID-19 vaccine logistics contract.
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