As the more contagious strains of COVID-19 take hold, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "rare exceptions" to new travel restrictions will be made on compassionate grounds, but tough rules must be implemented in the next few weeks. While Trudeau said funding has accelerated construction, work is only expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Canada has secured a deal with Novavax to produce COVID-19 vaccines in this country.
Canada has also entered into an agreement with Precision NanoSystems, with projected manufacturing of the vaccine slated for 2023 at the earliest.
Further delivery delays of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario have prompted the provincial government to push back the deadline for administering first doses to all long-term care home residents.
When it is up and running, Prime Minister Trudeau estimated that the plant will produce 2-million doses a month.
Kelly Grindrod, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, said building the new vaccine production facility in Montreal may help boost capacity at the tail-end of the rollout.
NVX-CoV2373 is a protein-based vaccine candidate engineered from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. The UK has ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine, which can be manufactured on British soil.
The more contagious variant of the virus discovered by local scientists in November has also pushed the cases up and has been detected in countries including the USA and Australia.
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The UK variant of the coronavirus has developed a new, concerning mutation in a small number of cases, which scientists said makes it similar to the South African and Brazilian variants and could reduce the efficacy of vaccines.
Additionally, countries may adopt a policy being proposed by Germany: use more potent vaccines from Pfizer / BioNTech, Moderna, and Novavax in high-risk groups, while vaccinating the general population with whatever vaccine is available to control the overall spread.
The process, called a rolling submission, has also begun in the United Kingdom and Canada, Novavax said.
When it comes to vaccine supply, Canada is now at the mercy of foreign governments, which could at any time slam the doors shut to vaccine exports until their own people are vaccinated.
The two are collaborating on a COVID-19 vaccine, which was delayed until at least the fall after initial results were not as good as hoped.
That being said, Tam also noted that as of this past Sunday, the country had exceeded 20,000 deaths due to the virus - including 10,000 deaths in the first seven months of the pandemic.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, our top priority has been the health and safety of all Canadians".
Canada used to have a strong domestic vaccine industry.