B.C.'s top doctor: Protecting vaccine from 'concerted effort' at sabotage involves RCMP, military
VANCOUVER -- B.C.'s provincial health officer has revealed that "credible" security concerns involving the incoming COVID-19 vaccine shipments have prompted responses from the Department of National Defence and the RCMP.
Dr. Bonnie Henry first referenced “people who are targeting vaccines” during her Wednesday briefing, and on Thursday was asked to clarify whether the concerns were around theft or sabotage.
“It's really more the latter and it's around information we've received internationally and from Canadian agencies that there has been a concerted effort to interrupt the cold chain, for example, and to sabotage immunization programs,” she told reporters at a briefing.
“So that's part of it and we all need to ensure we're taking appropriate precautions to make sure that it is safe and we can make sure it's not tampered with through that whole process."
The B.C. RCMP has confirmed it is involved in protecting the vaccines, which will initially be kept at two distribution centres in the Lower Mainland – in locations that are being kept strictly under wraps.
“The B.C. RCMP is working closely with our provincial partners, namely the Ministry of Health, in the planning and delivery of the vaccines across the province,” said spokesperson Sgt. Janelle Shoihet told CTV News.
“We have been engaged in the planning process, and will continue to support throughout the delivery phase. For operational reasons we cannot provide more specific details with respect to the roles we have, and will continue to play.”
Henry said the Canadian military is also on top of the threats and prevention efforts.
“At the national level, as you know, the Department of National Defence has been involved supporting the whole operation across the country so we do take advice and support from them,” she said.
“Here in B.C., they've been part of our emergency operations centre providing support and advice, too, so it's a comfort to know we’re all talking to each other. It's going to be a very complex operation over the next few months."
In an interview with CTV News, Pfizer Canada said it was controlling its own shipping of the vaccine, which must be kept at ultra-cold temperatures between minus 70 and minus 80 degrees.
"We have, proactively, actually designed specific thermal shippers that are able to maintain the required temperatures and these thermal shippers are also equipped with GPS-enabled data logger that records the temperature as well as the location of these shippers,” explained Dr. Jelena Vojicic, Pfizer Canada’s vaccine medical lead in Montreal.
“So at any point of time, being the manufacturing site and the point of use, we will be able to track those shipments and prevent any unwanted temperature excursions. So, those shipments are connected with the central monitoring tower and our crews monitoring it throughout the journey."