Military to play central role in Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Health Canada could approve first vaccine by mid-December, reports

Major-General Dany Fortin - who it was announced today will lead Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout -passes on command of a NATO training mission in Iraq to Major-General Jennie Carignan at a Transfer of Authority Ceremony held at the Union III Military Base, Baghdad, Iraq on November 26, 2019 Photo: Cpl Ryan Moulton/Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Almost a year to the day he returned to Canada after completing his command of a NATO-led training and capacity-building mission in Iraq, it was announced that Canadian Forces Major-General Dany Fortin will be leading the nation's vaccine rollout.


This announcement via reports Friday morning from CTV News, comes on the heels of news Nov. 26, that Health Canada is on track to approve the first COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas. 

Military teams are already working with the Public Health Agency of Canada on planning for delivery and distribution of the vaccine, according to video from a House of Commons National Defence Committee meeting Nov. 16 on the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the armed forces.

“We are working with optimism and enthusiasm as part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout task force,” Staff Major Gen. Trevor Cadieu told MPs. “Specifically, the Canadian Armed Forces is assisting with the development of a logistics support plan for the rollout of the vaccine.”

During a First Minister’s teleconference held in the evening on Nov. 26, Premiers were told to expect two-thirds of Canada’s vaccine supply in the new year from Pfizer, with the other one third coming from Moderna. 

The two companies were joined by the Gamaleya Center for Epidemiology, the Russian-based entity behind the “Sputnik V” vaccine, in releasing promising results from trials in mid-November. 

Scientists say of the press-released results shared by these companies, Moderna’s RNA-based vaccine was the most clear on how its vaccine is likely to prevent severe COVID-19 infections. However, more peer-reviewed data is needed, they added. 

Pfizer, who is partnering with BioNTech on its RNA-based vaccine was the first to release a successful interim analysis, boasting an above 90 % efficacy rate. The announcement kicked off a November 2020 that has so far teemed with va'sccine news. 

Moderna's vaccine candidate has been shown to be 94% effective according to the company's preliminary data, while the Sputnik V vaccine has an expected success rate of about 91%.

Fortin receives hugs after returning from a training mission in Iraq in November, 2019. Photo: Canadian Armed Forces Operations

Maj-Gen Fortin, who will be leading the massive effort to get vaccines to Canadians over the coming months, was appointed to lead NATO in an effort to rebuild war torn Iraq in the summer of 2018. 

The training mission included 580 trainers, advisors and support staff from Allied countries and non-NATO partners who worked with Iraqi military instructors who in turn, taught Iraq’s security forces and military academies.

Fortin's over 30 years of military experience prior, had seen him command the 1st Canadian Division Headquarters in Ontario, the 5th regiment and the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group.

Fortin was also in charge since this spring of the military’s pandemic response, heavily involved in deploying hundreds of soldiers into Ontario and Quebec nursing homes during the first wave of the pandemic.

In total, about 1,650 trained military personnel were deployed in response to provincial calls for help to care for residents in both provinces. 

A report produced by the military from its experience during this time detailed cockroach and bug infestations, seniors calling out repeatedly for help, rotting food, COVID-19 infected patients put in the same room with those who are healthy, missed meals and seniors left in soiled diapers and linens - drawing attention to long suspected problems in the two province’s nursing homes. 

Mike Carter reporting for Yeg City
Write Mike at


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