Canada has reached an agreement to purchase an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.
This doubles the number of doses the country has blocked from the US pharmaceutical giant and brings the total expected this year of two approved vaccine makers to 80 million – enough to immunize the entire Canadian population on the required two-dose schedule. . .
“From our agreements with Pfizer and Moderna only … we are on track to ensure that all Canadians who want a vaccine get one by September,” Trudeau said at a press conference outside Rideau Cottage.
“We will continue to work to see if we can get a few more doses because all Canadians want it to happen as quickly as possible.
Canada has now committed to purchase 40 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and 40 million doses from Moderna, with the option to purchase 36 million additional doses of Pfizer-BioNTech if desired. Six million are expected to arrive by the end of March – enough to immunize 3 million people.
Trudeau’s announcement comes days after Supply Minister Anita Anand said the federal government chose not to exercise its option to purchase up to 16 million additional doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine . In a separate press conference, Anand said she chose not to purchase those remaining doses because Moderna couldn’t guarantee delivery until September.
As of Monday evening, more than 380,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Canada out of 548,000 doses distributed to provinces and territories, according to a TBEN News tally.
Pressure is mounting to speed up vaccine delivery
The federal government has come under tremendous pressure to speed up vaccine delivery as Canada experiences an increase in post-holiday cases and deaths and fears increase over the spread of a strain of coronavirus identified for the first time in UK which is more transmissible than others. variants.
Several provinces warn that they are administering the doses faster than they are. Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta said on Monday that Alberta could run out of its vaccine supply as early as next week, while British Columbia’s provincial health worker Dr Bonnie Henry said that the province would be sold out by the end of yesterday before a delivery scheduled for Thursday.
The federal government this week released a delivery schedule that includes shipping dates and the number of doses expected to be delivered to provinces and territories through the end of February.
“We continue to work with various vaccine companies to speed up, to move forward, to get more doses for Canadians as quickly as possible,” Trudeau said. “At present, we have been able to give very clear direction and information to provinces on how many doses of vaccine they will receive each week by the end of February, allowing them to plan and to manage their deployment processes. “
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Anand said negotiations with Pfizer led the manufacturer to increase the delivery of two million doses initially scheduled from the third quarter to the second quarter.
“It is the job of my department and myself every day – to speed up vaccine deliveries to this country,” Anand said. “Once we enter the second and third quarters, Canadians will see a dramatic acceleration in the pace of scheduled vaccine deliveries.”
Anand said she estimates that around 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will arrive between April and June – enough to vaccinate 10 million people – in addition to the six million doses expected by March. His office says Canada could vaccinate up to 20 million people by June if Health Canada approves two more vaccine candidates under review AstraZeneca-Oxford and Janssen Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Advisory committee recommends two doses within six weeks
Separately today, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) concluded that the second doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should not be given more than six weeks after the first.
The recommendation was announced by Dr. Caroline Quach, chair of the committee, during an interview with the Radio-Canada program on Tuesday. All morning a few hours before the publication of the committee’s recommendations. The recommendations, intended for the Public Health Agency of Canada, allow for a longer break between doses than the manufacturers recommend.
Officially, Pfizer-BioNTech’s guidelines require that the two doses be given 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing out the doses by 28 days.
NACI came to this conclusion after reviewing clinical trial data and considering the epidemiological situation in several provinces, Quach said.
This advice may prompt provinces to reconsider their approaches to the vaccination campaign, as some provinces have withheld doses to ensure they have sufficient supplies to provide follow-up doses.
There is a growing consensus among experts that offering the COVID-19 vaccine to as many people as possible may be more beneficial than withholding supplies to give recipients their second dose according to the manufacturers’ schedule – especially in light of the that there is more certainty around the delivery schedule.
Henry, the provincial health worker for British Columbia, was first criticized by doctors and nurses in British Columbia after the province decided to delay second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Henry argued that the decision was made with advice from the World Health Organization, BC Centers for Disease Control, NACI and international research groups and said there has no evidence that a longer wait before giving a booster dose affects immunity.
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