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Anti-COVID-19 measures to last years even with vaccine: Canadian health officials

N.C.N. Limited 徽标 N.C.N. Limited 2020/8/4 Li Baodong
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A woman wearing a face mask arrives at the COVID-19 assessment center of a hospital in Toronto, Canada, July 20, 2020. (Photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua)

"We're going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role," said Canada's Chief Public Health Officer.

OTTAWA, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Canadians shouldn't expect a COVID-19 vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic and return to normal, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said on Tuesday.

"We're going to have to manage this pandemic certainly over the next year, but certainly it may be planning for the longer term on the next two to three years during which the vaccine may play a role," said Tam at a press conference on COVID-19 in Ottawa.

"People might think that if we get a vaccine then everything goes back to normal the way it was before. That's not the case. All of the measures we've put in place now will still have to continue with the new reality for quite some time," Canada's Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo said at the press conference.

"Certainly I think that we need to temper people's expectations, thinking that the vaccines can be that silver bullet that will take care of everything, and everything we've done up to now won't be necessary in the future," said Njoo.

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Passengers wearing face masks ride a SkyTrain in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua)

Tam reiterated the importance of physical distancing, proper hand hygiene and mask wearing.

"We can't at this stage just put all of our focus [on a vaccine] in the hopes that this is the silver bullet solution," said Tam. "It is a very important solution if we get a safe and effective vaccine, but I would say that the public health measures that we have in place the sort of personal, daily measures that we take is going to have to continue."

Tam said it's unclear at this stage how effective a vaccine will be. She said key questions remain about the degree and duration of immunity a vaccine will provide, the dosage that will be needed and whether it will prevent people from getting infected altogether or simply prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization.

It is reported that there are more than 166 vaccines at various stages of preclinical and clinical (human) testing across the globe right now.

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People line up outside the entrance to the Central Library of Vancouver Public Library (VPL) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, July 14, 2020. (Photo by Liang Sen/Xinhua)

Tam warned that even once a vaccine is tested and deemed to be both safe and effective, there will be challenges with distributing it widely to those who need it.

"It's likely that there won't be enough vaccines for the population," said Tam. "So there'll be prioritization and we're looking at that."

COVID-19 has hit the whole world. More than 18.36 million people are infected worldwide and 696,000 have died, according to the tally by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been 117,343 confirmed cases and 8,953 deaths from the virus, according to CTV. 

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