An Ontario infectious disease specialist says while all areas of Canada benefit from receiving COVID-19 vaccines; it would make sense from an epidemiological standpoint to focus the limited vaccines on "where the fire is burning hottest."
According to CTV News' coronavirus vaccine tracker, Canada received 1,122,450 doses of COVID-19 from manufacturers as of Jan. 31. Ontario has received 411,650 doses of vaccine, while Quebec has received 238,100 doses.
Prince Edward Island has received the fewest doses in Canada, with 9,255 doses received, while Nunavut has received 12,000 doses.
During CTV News at Six Saturday night, anchor Christina Succi asked Dr. Isaac Bogoch if Canada should abandon the per-capita distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the provinces and focus on hard-hit areas during the current COVID-19 vaccine shortage.
"That's a really tricky one. There are parts of the country, even though they have been minimally impacted or perhaps less impacted than places like hard hit Ontario and Quebec, they still would benefit from this vaccine and they still have populations at risk of severe infection if they were to be infected," said Dr. Bogoch, infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital.
"Having said that, if we want to think of it purely from an epidemiologic standpoint and purely from a how can we do the best with the limited resources standpoint, yah it would make sense to actually focus on where the fire is burning hottest."
Dr. Bogoch says it is not just Ontario and Quebec that could benefit from more doses, but parts of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan are also seeing higher cases of COVID-19.
"There's not always going to be medical and epidemiologic opinions that go into this, there's probably going to be some degree of political opinions that go into these decisions and this is what we've got, so this is what we’ll do," said Dr. Bogoch.
Ottawa critical care and palliative care doctor Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng suggests hard hit areas should be given priority right now.
"We try and be equal and give equal distribution based on population," said Dr. Kyeremanteng on Sunday. "But if the need is not there, really we should be focusing on areas that are of need to help salvage life and spread."
Last Thursday, the military general in charge of Canada's national COVID-19 vaccine rollout said the federal government is not considering moving vaccine doses from regions with low levels of COVID-19 to places with higher levels.
"I think it would be counterproductive to do that in the midst of your immunization plan at every location," said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin. "What we could anticipate being prepared to do is adjust based on per capita distribution at locations that require the most future shipments long enough out for provinces to plan accordingly. But, we do not have plans to do so at this time."
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said federal officials are speaking with their counterparts in each province to discuss the emergence of new COVID-19 variants and vaccines.
Maj.-Gen. Fortin added it's "more appropriate to push as many vaccines forward as possible for Canadians to receive this to be immunized as rapidly as possible."
In Ottawa on Sunday, residents believed COVID-19 vaccines should go where they are needed more.
"I think it’s reasonable to give it to the provinces that need it the most. We’re in an emergency situation and we need cooperation," said one resident.
"While we’re short of vaccines, to me the approach should be where it’s needed most," said another resident.