Ontario’s government has officially announced its COVID-19 vaccine taskforce, appointing retired General Rick Hillier to lead the province’s vaccine rollout.
Premier Doug Ford said the distribution of the vaccine, once approved, will require coordination and proper logistics in an effort to get everyone safely vaccinated and “return to normal.”
“The fact that we are setting up this task force is a sign that we are making progress in the fight against COVID-19,” said Premier Ford.
“We still have a long way to go, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why I have asked General Hillier to lead this effort, because we need the best of the best for the monumental task at hand.”
“I am confident he will bring the same disciplined leadership and military precision needed to execute one of the largest logistical undertakings our province has ever faced,” the premier added.
Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces and Commander of the NATO-led forces during the War in Afghanistan, has been named Chair of this new task force, “leading the largest vaccine rollout in a generation.”
The COVID-19 vaccine task force members will include cross-government and external representation with diverse expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial relations, health and clinical domains, public health and immunization, ethics, and information technology and data.
Ontario’s minister of health, Christine Elliott, reiterated that progress continues to be made with regards to the province securing doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s recently announced vaccines.
“This campaign will be unparalleled,” Elliott said. “The response will require co-ordination and touch all parts of the health system and beyond.”
Last week, Elliott said Ontario will get roughly 1.6 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and around 800,000 of Moderna’s for proper distribution.
On Monday, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.
Hillier and other members of the task force will begin work this week.