Canadian Manufacturing

Canada’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccination program won’t get better this week

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has maintained that delivery delays are temporary, and that Pfizer and Moderna tell him Canada is still on track to receive six million doses of their two vaccines by the end of March.

February 8, 2021  The Canadian Press

Canada’s languid vaccination efforts have no chance of improvement this week with just 70,200 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine scheduled to start arriving.

Provinces and territories have already administered almost 90 per cent of the vaccines they have been sent. With this week’s new deliveries, there will be fewer than a quarter million doses of vaccine available to be injected this week.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander in charge of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s vaccine distribution plan, has said this should be the final week of smaller shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech, which cut Canada’s deliveries by more than two-thirds over four weeks while a production site in Belgium was expanded.

Next week Canada is supposed to get around 335,000 doses, which would be the single biggest vaccine delivery to Canada thus far. Pfizer says almost 400,000 doses are to come the week after that.

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Moderna, the only other company with a vaccine approved in Canada so far, delivers its vaccine once every three weeks and its next scheduled shipment isn’t supposed to be until the week of Feb. 22.

The company also shorted Canada on expected doses during last week’s delivery, a problem the company attributed to a slower-than-expected ramp-up of production with its Swiss-manufacturing partner Lonza.

However Fortin said the company hasn’t given Canada a specific reason for the slowdown.

Moderna was supposed to send 230,000 doses last week and instead shipped 180,000. The week of Feb. 22 Canada was supposed to get almost 250,000 doses but Moderna has warned Canada to expect that shipment to be smaller as well.

Currently, Health Canada’s distribution schedule lists no new Moderna shipments beyond Feb. 7, as confusion over deliveries deflates Canadians’ confidence in the Liberal government’s vaccine rollout.

Health Canada could approve a third vaccine for use this week, this one from AstraZeneca.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has maintained that delivery delays are temporary, and that Pfizer and Moderna tell him Canada is still on track to receive six million doses of their two vaccines by the end of March.