By Gordon Lambie
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier François Legault announced Friday that COVID-19 vaccine developer Moderna will build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the Montreal area. When completed, this new facility will be able to produce up to 100 million mRNA vaccine doses annually.
Construction is set to start this year and the facility is expected to be operational in 2024 at the earliest, subject to planning and regulatory approvals. In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, the facility is expected to be able to produce vaccines for other respiratory diseases, such as influenza – pending their ongoing development by Moderna and approval by Health Canada.
The exact location of the future facility has not yet been determined.
As of Friday there were 2,290 people in hospital with COVID-19 across Quebec, a decrease of 36 compared to Thursday’s numbers. 928 of those people, or 42 per cent of the total, were hospitalized for the virus itself.
The number of people in intensive care also decreased, dropping by four to 81, 51 of whom were in ICU because of Covid.
The total number of Covid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic had climbed to 14,977 by Friday, but the number of health care workers absent for Covid-related reasons decreased to 9,104.
In the Eastern Townships the number of people in hospital with the virus went back down to 158, with five in intensive care, but one more Covid-related death was recorded, for a regional total of 586 to date.
As in recent weeks, no detailed update on the COVID-19 situation was provided by the government over the weekend, but last week the interim Provincial Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau described the province as being in a state of gradual improvement. Although Boileau said that the formal recommendation would only be made on Monday, he strongly suggested that the Government will announce plans this week to lift the requirement to wear masks in public spaces on May 14.