Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on January 11, 2021. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the government plans to distribute more than 70,000 Pfizer-BiotNTech vaccine doses this week, but no Moderna doses amid recent delivery delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on January 11, 2021. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the government plans to distribute more than 70,000 Pfizer-BiotNTech vaccine doses this week, but no Moderna doses amid recent delivery delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

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

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

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.

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.

Two more are also being reviewed, with Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine possibly ready for a decision by the end of February, and Novavax’s potentially by April.

The three together would more than double the available doses to Canada this year, but the federal government has remained tight lipped about when any of the vaccines would start being shipped.

Canada could get about 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the global vaccine sharing program known as COVAX before the end of March, though it has been heavily criticized for taking vaccines from a program that is also distributing doses to poor countries that have no direct deals with vaccine makers of their own.

AstraZeneca has also run into some concern, with South Africa cancelling the planned rollout of that vaccine when it was found to not be that effective against the B.1.351 variant of the novel coronavirus, a variant first found in that country and which now dominates the cases there.

It has been effective against the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the United Kingdom. As of Friday about 240 cases of that variant had been diagnosed in Canada and more than a dozen cases of B.1.351.

Both appear to transmit more quickly.

Weekly projections on vaccine distribution from the public health agency are fluid and subject to change.

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.

READ MORE: Trudeau says government foresaw short-term delays in vaccine deliveries to Canada, planned accordingly

Health Canada projects with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna alone they will vaccinate three million people by the end of March, another 10 million in the spring, and any other Canadians who wish to be vaccinated by the end of September.

There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories on Sunday, leaving a total of 1.2 million doses delivered so far.

Some 340,000 were from Moderna and 858,000 from Pfizer, according to the public health agency.

The provinces reported 11,885 new vaccinations administered Sunday for a total of about 1.08 million so far. About 175,000 people have received both required doses, and about 900,000 have received one dose thus far.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew

Logging company applies for injunction to remove blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

(Black Press Media file photo)
Aggressive bus passenger arrested in Saanich for uttering threats

Suspect had outstanding warrant for assault at bus stop, two assaults on BC Transit buses

(Pixabay photo)
New program to provide recovery beds for at-risk Greater Victoria youth

It will aim to meet ‘health and social’ needs of wide range of youth

Pacific Coastal Airline flights 8P1543 on Feb. 22 and 8P1538 on Feb. 24 had cased of COVID-19 onboard, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. (Pacific Coastal Airlines photo)
Two flights between Kelowna and Victoria report COVID-19 exposures

Pacific Coastal Airlines flights on Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 affected

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

Needles are seen on the ground in Oppenheimer park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on March 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s chief coroner says increased drug toxicity responsible for record overdose deaths in January

165 people – the largest number of lives lost due to illicit drugs in the first month of a calendar year

LETTER: Anti-semitism definition lacking

Re: We must identify anti-Semitism and combat it (Online, Feb. 26) I… Continue reading

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read