Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks to Pfizer about improving COVID-19 vaccine production
Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks during a press conference in Toronto on February 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
TORONTO -- Toronto Mayor John Tory has joined a chorus of Canadian politicians in urging Pfizer-Biotech to produce more COVID-19 vaccine.
Tory followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, among others, in speaking directly to executives from the pharmaceutical multinational. Tory said he wanted to make a constructive case after the company said it would not be able to fulfil next week's order to the federal government.
"The best way to go about these kinds of conversations is to make your case as a Canadian, which I did, and as the mayor of the largest city in the country, and to try to make Canada's case," Tory said.
Trudeau has said he spoke to Pfizer on Tuesday and Ford said he was in contact with the pharmaceutical manufacturer on Wednesday.
Tory said he knows members of Pfizer's management team from his previous career as a business executive, and that he reached out to them in concert with the federal government.
"I'm trying to help the country's efforts to try to see if we can't get more supply," the mayor said. "I can't tell you what results my intervention, or anybody else's, will have."
Toronto has had to shut down its two vaccination programs until the federal government provides more doses to the city's public health unit.
An immunization clinic at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre closed after two days of inoculating front-line health care workers. The city also paused a pilot in shelters for people experiencing homelessness.
Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto's chief medical officer, said everyone's frustrated with the shipping delay, because the vaccine offers people hope.
"Having it slowed down and having the change in course is not what we wanted," De Villa said. "But we expect there will be eventually vaccine coming available and we'll do our very best."
De Villa said there were 986 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto on Thursday and 10 more deaths linked to the virus. The update included 102 cases from earlier in the week that had previously gone unreported because of a technical error.
Councillor Joe Cressy, chairman of the Toronto Board of Health, joined Tory and De Villa at the Thursday afternoon news conference. All three detailed the city's ongoing efforts to support racialized communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
Toronto, Ontario Health, hospitals, and community health providers have been working to improve access to testing in those neighbourhoods. Toronto reports nearly 271 testing clinics have been booked in more than 20 different city-owned facilities, with 89 more dates to come in January at 12 different sites.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.