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December 3, 2021 – Federal government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

The following is an update on recent decisions and actions by the federal government related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oral medications against COVID-19

Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Public Services and Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi announced today that Canada has signed agreements with Merck and Pfizer to access those drug manufacturers’ COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments.

Canada will receive 500,000 courses of the Merck antiviral treatment, Molnupiravir, and has an option to acquire up to 500,000. The agreement with Pfizer, meanwhile, calls for an initial shipment of 1 million courses of its COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment.

“The Government of Canada continues to pursue an aggressive strategy to ensure that Canadians are protected from COVID-19,” Minister Tassi said. “I am pleased to announce these new agreements with Merck and Pfizer, which will help to save lives by providing Canadians with access to oral antiviral treatments for COVID–19,” she added.

These COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments will be available and distributed to the provinces and territories once Health Canada has authorized them.

New delivery of pediatric vaccine

The ministers confirmed that at least 2.9 million doses of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine have been received, enough to administer at least one dose to all Canadian children eligible to receive it.

NACI booster shot recommendation

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended to the federal government that a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to Canadians aged 18 or older six months after they receive their second dose.

In the case of Canadians aged 50 or older, the NACI “strongly recommends” a booster shot. It also strongly recommends that people who have received a full course of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine be given a booster dose. This recommendation also applies to people in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, to front-line healthcare workers, and to adults living in long-term care centres

The recommendation from the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec (CIQ) on boosters for Quebecers aged between 50 and 69 is expected during the week of December 6.