The federal government has secured an additional eight million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, hours after Moderna said its incoming delivery of 1.2 million more vaccine doses would be slashed in half.
Canada will receive four million more Pfizer doses in May, another two million in June and two million more in July, Trudeau said.
“I want to thank everyone at Pfizer for their cooperation and hard work, not just to keep deliveries on schedule, but to move more doses up and reach new agreements,” Trudeau said.
In all, Canada will be receiving eight million doses in May and almost 12 million in June from Pfizer alone, Trudeau said.
“More doses arriving sooner means more people getting their vaccine faster,” Trudeau said.
‘We are disappointed’
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in a statement that Moderna advised Canada the limited supply is due to a slower than anticipated ramp up of production capacity.
The company also told Canada that one to two million doses of the 12.3 million scheduled for delivery in the second quarter may be delayed until the third quarter.
“We are disappointed, and while we understand the challenges facing suppliers in the current global market for vaccines, our government will continue to press Moderna to fulfil its commitments,” Anand said in a statement.
Canada is now expecting delivery of 48 to 50 million doses from all vaccine suppliers – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – in the first six months of this year.
Based on those figures, Trudeau said, every Canadian adult should be able to receive at least one dose by the end of June.
The pressure to vaccinate more Canadians as soon as possible rises amid a rapidly surging third wave of the pandemic.
‘This country must come together’
Earlier Friday, the Canadian Medical Association called for “unprecedented” measures, including marshalling national resources where needed, applying restrictive public health measures, and prioritizing national collaboration to save the most lives.
“As the third wave of the pandemic wreaks havoc on the healthcare and public health systems, healthcare providers, and patients, we are at a critical juncture where a truly national approach to combating COVID-19 will make the difference between more or fewer lives saved,” said in a statement Dr. Ann Collins, president of the CMA.
“This country must come together to help support provinces most severely impacted.”
The CMA is also calling on the federal government to consider a re-prioritization of its vaccine distribution strategy to focus on areas of urgent need as opposed to the per-capita approach adopted to date.
“We are one country, and it’s time we started acting as one by deploying resources where they are most needed,” said Collins. “If we can’t achieve this through voluntary cooperation, then more and stronger measures might be needed.”
The call by the CMA came as Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government reached out to his counterparts across the country pleading to send in medical staff to relieve the overstretched and overworked healthcare workers in Canada’s most populous province.
Ford is also expected to announce new restrictions in the province, with daily COVID-19 case counts and admissions to hospitals and intensive care at new pandemic peaks.
With files from CBC News and The Canadian Press