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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a February news conference in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: David Kawai/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on Wednesday recommended extending the interval between first and second doses of COVID-19 to up to four months to boost inoculation numbers.

Why it matters: The panel said taking such action would allow about 80% of Canadians over 16 to receive a single dose by the end of June.

  • Second doses would begin in July, when the first batch of some 55 million doses are expected to arrive, the NACI said.

Of note: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has "expressed optimism" that the wait for coronavirus inoculations could be shortened, AP noted. The provinces of Quebec, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador have now all vowed to delay doses.

The big picture: Canada has secured more vaccine contracts than any other country. Canadian health officials have so far approved the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines for use.

  • The current wait period for these vaccines is three to four weeks. Regulator Health Canada noted in a statement emerging evidence suggests high COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness "against symptomatic disease and hospitalization for several weeks after the first dose."
  • NACI noted that while studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, "the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection."

What they're saying: University of Toronto infectious diseases professor Andrew Morris, the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network, told AP the strategy was a "no brainer."

  • He added the panel was "making a reasonable calculation in a time of drug shortage."
  • But Brad Wouters, executive vice-president of science and research at University Health Network, expressed skepticism:
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper: New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy

Go deeper

U.S. 7-day COVID-19 vaccine average tops 2M per day for first time

Healthcare worker Karen Crawford (L) as nurse Yolanda Javier administers a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to her at St. John's Well Child & Family Center in Los Angeles in January. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The U.S. has administered 80,540,474 COVID-19 doses as of Wednesday, CDC data shows.

Why it matters: That's 75% of the 107,028,890 doses delivered. It means some 1.9 million more doses have been reported administered since Tuesday, taking the seven-day average to over 2 million a day for the first time, CNN notes. Nearly 53 million people, or 16% of the U.S. population, have had at least one COVID shot and almost 27 million have had two, per the CDC.

Go deeper... Biden: U.S. will have enough vaccines for 300M by end of May

Minnesota eyes an even faster vaccine rollout

Photo: Johnny Milano/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses started to arrive in Minnesota Wednesday, giving a much-needed boost to the state's vaccine rollout.

Why it matters: Something like normalcy could be here faster than anticipated. Gov. Tim Walz signaled optimism about planning a June wedding. And he said the "brass ring is pretty grabbable" for the State Fair.

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.