Canada will receive hundreds of thousands fewer doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine than previously anticipated. Global News has learned. The government had promised that Canada would receive four million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine by the end of March.
Sources from multiple premiers’ offices tell Global News it’s now expected to be only about 3.5 million doses. One of the sources told Global News that Alberta’s total shipments for the first quarter of this year will be 13 percent less than previously expected.
Federal officials are expected to hold a technical briefing about vaccine distribution in Ottawa at 12 p.m. ET.
The reduction stems, in part, from a production delay at Pfizer’s factory in Europe. The company is scaling up its manufacturing capacity in Belgium — a move it said would impact the vaccine’s production for a “short period.”
The news is a reversal of the confidence previously expressed by Canadian officials. Who had maintained that the reduction in shipments for January and February would be made up when deliveries “ramp up” in March.
Gen. Dany Fortin, who is overseeing logistical planning for Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts, told reporters on Jan. 15, the day the European production delay was announced, that shipments would be reduced by an average of 50 per cent over four weeks.
He did, at the time, acknowledge that the brunt of the delivery reduction would be felt in late January.
However, Fortin and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both said they were confident the delays would be “temporary”. And that Canada would still receive four million doses of Pfizer’s shot by the end of March.
To date, Canada has received about 1,122,450 doses of both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, according to a vaccine tracker by the University of Saskatchewan. A tally by the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the total number of vaccines delivered as 1,119,225.
By February, Canada was also expecting just shy of two million doses to be delivered.
Canada has set a goal to obtain enough approved vaccines for anyone who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September. It’s not yet clear how this delay might impact that target.
Several provinces have already used up nearly all their vaccine supply and have been forced to push back their vaccination schedules.
This week, Ontario announced it would pause vaccinations of long-term care staff and essential caregivers due to upcoming delivery delays. Saskatchewan announced Sunday it had exhausted all the doses it had received so far, while Quebec said it had used up more than 90 percent of its supply.
— with files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ David Akin and Rachel Gilmore
source; Global news Rachael D’Amore