COVID-19 vaccine deliveries back on track following weeks of delay: PHAC

The delivery of COVID-19 vaccine doses from two approved vaccine makers, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are back on track following weeks of reduced shipments, officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada said today.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada’s vaccine logistics, said 403,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Canada this week — the largest delivery since shipments began in December.

Fortin said that both companies are on track to meet their delivery targets totalling six million doses — four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna — by the end of March.

In addition, an updated delivery timeline released by PHAC shows Canada should receive enough doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to fully vaccinate 14.5 million Canadians by the end of June.

“We’re now coming out of this period of limited supplies. It’s an abundance of supplies for spring and summer, where we can have a significant scaling up of immunization plans in provinces,” Fortin said.

Pressure on government

Pfizer has locked in a delivery schedule for the next six weeks to meet the end-of-March deadline. The company plans to ship 475,000 doses next week and then 444,000 per week next month.

Fortin said Moderna, which has already delivered 500,000 doses, will deliver a reduced shipment of 168,000 doses next week. Negotiations are still underway with Moderna on specific delivery dates for the remaining 1.3 million doses it’s committed to, but they are expected to arrive in two shipments in March, Fortin said. 

The federal government has come under intense pressure from opposition politicians and other critics in recent weeks as the country’s vaccine rollout slowed. Pfizer began reducing shipments in January as it retooled its manufacturing plant in Puurs, Belgium, so that it could expand its manufacturing capacity. Moderna has also cut its shipments in recent weeks.

Canada has fallen behind dozens of other countries in measurements of doses administered by population, according to a global vaccine tracking database maintained by University of Oxford researchers.

A Public Health Agency of Canada chart shows that Canada could have enough doses to vaccinate 24.5 million people by the end of June. But that calculation is based on an optimistic scenario where three other vaccines currently under review — from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax — are approved by Health Canada and delivered on time.

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