Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

The price Canada is paying for vaccines has been shrouded in mystery, as contracts are confidential

The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up to $5 billion on vaccines and other COVID-19 treatments.

Federal budget documents show $5.3 billion was approved in December for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including the purchase of doses, and research and development.

Last month, $5 billion of that was shifted from the current fiscal year into 2021-22.

The Public Health Agency of Canada told The Canadian Press this is to “ensure continuity of funding to match the timing for payments as vaccines are delivered.”

“As a very significant portion of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries and expenditures will take place in 2021-22, this reprofile is intended to transfer a portion of the Medical Research and Vaccine Development funding in the fiscal year in which its related expenditures will take place,” said the statement sent by a spokesman at the agency.

Only 6.5 million of the more than 240 million COVID-19 vaccine doses Canada is guaranteed to buy will be delivered before the end of March.

The price Canada is paying for vaccines has been shrouded in mystery, as contracts with suppliers are covered by confidentiality clauses that prohibit the federal government from saying how much it is spending on every dose.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in September that Canada had allocated $1 billion for vaccines after signing deals with five companies for 154 million guaranteed doses, as well as options to add another 108 million after more was known about how the vaccines worked.

Another $220 million was allocated to buy up to 15 million doses from COVAX, the international vaccine-sharing program.

Soon after Canada added 20 million doses from Oxford-AstraZeneca and another 20 million from Medicago, which is the sole Canadian company in the mix. Neither were included in the original $1 billion.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Canada has also since doubled its order from Pfizer-BioNTech to 40 million doses, bumped its Moderna order from 20 million doses to 44 million, and purchased another two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India.

The first 500,000 of those doses from India arrived in Canada Wednesday morning. Canada has also received more than two million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and about 630,000 doses from Moderna.

No other vaccines have been approved, though Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said she anticipates Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine will be authorized by the middle of March.

Anand said last week she hoped to provide an updated figure soon on how much Canada is spending on vaccines.

“We are continuing to make sure that we have the most accurate number possible before providing that to the Canadian public,” she said Feb. 26.

The federal public health agency has not said specifically how much of the $5 billion is going to vaccines versus other COVID-19 medications.

Some information on the cost per dose has been released or leaked in both the United States and Europe. The U.S. is believed to be paying, adjusted to Canadian dollars, $40 a dose for Moderna, $25 for Pfizer-BioNTech, $4 or $5 for Oxford-AstraZeneca, $12 for Johnson and Johnson and $20 for Novavax.

Europe’s prices, inadvertently leaked by a Belgian politician on Twitter, included, in Canadian dollars, $3 for Oxford-AstraZeneca, $13 for Johnson and Johnson, $18 for Pfizer, and $27 for Moderna.

Both the United States and Europe invested directly in the research and development of many of those vaccines, and it’s not clear how much that may affect their price per dose. Anand said Canada paid a “fair-market” price for all the vaccines it ordered.

READ MORE: Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Coronavirusvaccines

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

Just Posted

Road improvements in Sooke are nearing completion . (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Sooke road work nears completion

Projects part of $5.7 million in improvements

A Victoria parks staffer turns compost made from organics collected in the parks. Piles of this steaming, nutrient-rich stuff will be handed out between April 12-18. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Victoria shovels free home-made compost out to gardeners

Ideal for prepping food gardens, the compost, mulch and wood chips will be at city parks for pick up

New programs and services aimed at helping the unhoused find shelter or housing in Victoria, and to take advantage of support services of various kinds, could be funded if a City of Victoria grant application is successful. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria seeks $3M to $4M in grant funds to enhance community services for unhoused population

Various supports, services for unhoused population part of broad-based funding application

Victoria Police Department seized a replica firearm during an early morning call to the 100-block of Gorge Road East on April 11. (VicPD handout)
Victoria police seize replica firearm in early Sunday morning call

Officers called to temporary housing facility in 100-block of Gorge Road East

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A youth was arrested following a car crash on Wallace Street on Saturday, April 10. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Onlookers laugh and jeer as B.C. teen beaten, then forced to strip and walk home

Police arrest older teen, call video shared on social media ‘disturbing’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read