Canada is poised to receive its biggest COVID-19 vaccine deliver to date following weeks of delays from manufacturers.
A total of 643,020 doses are due to arrive this week – 475,020 doses from Pfizer Inc. and 168,000 doses from Moderna Inc.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said during a Tuesday (February 23) briefing that most of those doses have already arrived in the country.
The latest deliveries bring Canada’s total tally to 2.5 million doses since mid-December.
But shipments from Pfizer and Moderna will need to more than double by the end of March for the competing manufacturers to meet their guarantee of a combined six million total doses for the first quarter of 2021.
Federal officials have repeatedly said they’ve received reassurances from the manufacturers that they will fulfill the delivery commitments.
Pfizer deliveries were delayed for much of January and February as it revamped its manufacturing facility in Belgium to boost production capacity.
This came at the same time Moderna began throttling deliveries, leaving provinces like B.C. to delay the intervals between the vaccines’ first and second doses.
Both vaccine manufacturers recommend intervals of about three to four weeks between doses. B.C. initially stretched that interval to 35 days in January and then to 42 days shortly afterward.
Once Pfizer and Moderna meet their delivery guarantees for the first quarter of 2021, shipments are due to ramp up further as provinces engage in mass vaccination efforts.
The province’s initial rollout plan is based on the assumption that it will only have access to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
But if more vaccines are approved by Health Canada, provincial officials have previously stated that B.C. will ramp up immunization plans for the 4.3 million residents eligible for vaccinations.
Those under the age of 18 are currently not eligible for vaccinations, but that could change if more vaccines are given the green light by regulators.
Canadian regulators look set to next make an approval decision on the AstraZeneca plc vaccine, which has already been given the nod in several countries.
Canada has ordered 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while Anand confirmed deliveries would be coming from manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and potentially India.
“From a vaccine supplier standpoint, they are usually reluctant to provide firm delivery dates in a quarter prior to knowing the date on which they receive authorization from the regulatory body,” she said, when questioned about potential delivery in the second quarter of the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.