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

Penticton bylaw services department. (Submitted file photo)
Penticton Mayor tries again for more bylaw officers

Mayor John Vassilaki wants to see bylaw offer seven day a week services with extended hours

The City Park dock in Kelowna was underwater due to rising Okanagan Lake flooding in 2017. (OBWB photo)
Okanagan facing extreme flooding risk

Water board calls for updated Okanagan Lake level management

Penticton City Hall
Penticton City Hall continues with COVID-19 reduced hours

One year ago, city hall cut its hours in half, now it’s the only municipality left doing so

Penticton Golf and Country Club was in full swing on opening day on March 2. (Monique Tamminga - Western News)
Golf in full swing on opening day at Penticton course

All tee times are booked into the next two weeks at the Penticton Golf and Country Club

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

423 cases remain active in the region

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

The restart of the program means seniors can receive affordable meals delivered five days a week Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.
Princeton Meals of Wheels one year trial will cost $92k

Program restarts, and volunteer drivers are needed

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering with soft tissue injuries following the incident

A discarded blue surgical mask is shown hanging in a bush in Montreal, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
B.C. RMT suspended for not wearing a mask after confirmed by undercover clients

College of Massage Therapists has 5 open files, said suspension necessary to protect public

Accident rates, injury claims and court costs have driven ICBC into deficit in recent years. (Black Press Media)
Judge rejects taking lawyers out of minor ICBC injury cases

Ruling the latest setback for B.C. NDP’s insurance cost reforms

Kelowna Olympian Malindi Elmore has been honoured locally for her contributions to the sport of running. She is one of five Okanagan athletes who received an athletic excellence award from PacificSport Okanagan, this week. (Contributed/UBC Okanagan)
Okanagan athletes, coaches honoured for achievements during pandemic

Among them, Kelowna’s Malindi Elmore and Jacob Rubuliak named Community Sport Heroes

Most Read