What will it take to get a COVID-19 vaccine to 38 million people?


The federal government has said all options are on the table, including calling in the military, to get a COVID-19 vaccine out to Canadians but the country's largest drug distributor is raising some concerns about how it will work.

Two of the leading vaccine candidates need to be stored at either minus 20 C or minus 80 C.

McKesson Canada tells the Toronto Star the country is not equipped to do that at such a large scale, estimating that 75 million doses would require about 1.7 million cubic feet of storage space; about the size of 500 tractor-trailers.

It's not clear exactly how much frozen storage space Canada has.

The government is in talks with 70 private sector companies on a supply chain.

Storage is not the only issue to be worked out.

Health Canada still has to approve a vaccine. It is already reviewing preliminary data from three vaccine candidates.

The government also has to work out a way to track distribution and administration. There is no central IT platform to do that but Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam has said they are in talks with the provinces to find out what's needed but suggested a centralized database may not be nessessary.

Canada has signed contracts with seven vaccine suppliers, amounting to between 194 million and 414 million doses. If the vaccines are approved, it could start to receive them early next year.