Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a news conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Spring vaccinations could double in Canada if 3 more vaccines approved

Canada is vaccinating between 12,800 and 19,000 people per day, while the U.S. vaccinates 1 million

The number of Canadians vaccinated in the spring could double if Health Canada gives the green light to all three vaccines it is currently reviewing.

But Canada is unlikely to get any doses from those three companies directly until at least April, and confusion about deliveries of vaccines has thrown Canadian confidence in the Liberal government’s vaccine rollout into a tailspin.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added to the confusion directly Friday when he said at a news conference outside his Rideau Cottage residence that he believed the 20 million doses Canada pre-ordered from AstraZeneca are to be delivered before the end of June.

But he was wrong. Federal officials from Public Services and Procurement Canada clarified there are potentially 20 million more doses coming in the spring but that is a combination of doses from all three companies with vaccines now under review by Health Canada. That includes AstraZeneca, but also Johnson and Johnson and Novavax.

The reviews are in varying stages. AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is potentially ready for approval next week. Approval of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine will likely not come until late February or early March and Novavax not until April.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand told the House of Commons health committee Friday afternoon that AstraZeneca’s deliveries will be split up between the second and third quarters of the year.

“That is in our contracts,” Anand said.

Those contracts remain shrouded in secrecy, leaving opposition MPs and provincial premiers irate, as expected vaccine deliveries are delayed and injections slow to a crawl.

The federal government says with the two vaccines already approved — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — Canada will get enough doses to vaccinate three million people by the end of March and another 10 million by the end of June. They also say all Canadians who want to get the vaccine will be able to do so by the end of September.

Another 20 million doses could double the spring vaccination goal.

There is little clarity about how many doses provincial and territorial governments can expect to receive beyond next week, let alone what could come in the spring. The numbers have repeatedly changed in the last few weeks as suppliers face production issues and promised deliveries are slashed.

Anand said the contracts do not stipulate week-by-week shipments, but rather set out how many doses are to be sent by the end of each quarter. Pfizer and Moderna have both adjusted their weekly deliveries several times.

Anand said they would only be in breach of contract if they do not make good on their commitment to deliver a total of six million doses — four million from Pfizer-BioNTech and two million from Moderna — by the end of March.

Premiers pushed Trudeau during their weekly call Thursday to at least let them see the contracts in confidence so they could have a better idea what they guarantee for Canadians, and whether there is actually any certainty about deliveries.

“Saskatchewan is relying on the federal government for a consistent supply of vaccines and a consistent of supply of information,” Premier Scott Moe said in a written statement issued Friday. “So far, we are receiving neither.”

Canada passed the one-million mark for vaccinations this week, but it was a milestone barely noticed amid the confusion and bickering about dose deliveries.

The United Kingdom has vaccinated more than 15 per cent of its population already, and the U.S. passed 10 per cent.

Canada has given one dose to less than three per cent, and has fully vaccinated with two doses less than one per cent. It vaccinated between 12,800 and almost 19,000 people a day this past week, while the U.S. is vaccinating more than one million people every day.

Moe said he has often learned about delays in shipments from media reports, and that the provinces have been given weekly delivery estimates of Pfizer shipments through the end of February but nothing for March, and nothing for Moderna after this week.

“This means we are left to co-ordinate complex vaccine rollout plans with minimal information that is constantly changing,” he said.

During the health committee meeting Friday, Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus held up copies of contracts AstraZeneca and Pfizer had signed with the European Union, Israel and the United States. The contracts are redacted and were released with the permission of the companies.

“How is it that I got my hands on these major contracts but here in Canada we can’t put our finger on any information,” he said in French.

Anand’s tone was sharp as she said it would be “imprudent if not illegal” for Canada to release the contracts because all of them contain confidentiality clauses, and breaking those contracts could keep vaccines from being delivered.

“We all want vaccines as soon as possible and I’m not going to do anything to jeopardize that,” she said.

Anand said earlier this week she is talking to the companies about the possibility of releasing some of the information contained in the contracts, like other countries have done.

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

Just Posted

Fire Chief Roger Hollander supervises the filling of the 100 Mile Outdoor Ice Rink. Hollander and the 100 Mile Fire Rescue are currently looking for new members. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile House)
100 Mile Fire Rescue seeks new recruits

Annual recruitment drive runs until the end of February.

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

100 Mile Fire Rescue responded to an early morning fire at 93 Mile Thursday, Feb. 25. No one was injured. (Kelly Sinoski photo -100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile Fire called to early morning blaze at 93 Mile

One person was evacuated from the home.

Sarah Carter and Melody Watkins say that understanding bullies behaviour and helping those victimized are the keys to reducing bullying. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
PSO students tackle bullying

Pink Shirt Day PSO is about making sure victims of bullying are not alone.

Rather than just celebrate Pink Shirt on one day the members of the Cedar Crest Society wore pink shirts for the entire week to show their support for their clients and 100 Mile Students. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Spreading Kindness

At the Cedar Crest Society, Pink Shirt Day became Pink Shirt Week.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read