A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Feds expect Pfizer to start ramping up vaccine deliveries to Canada this week

Canada’s vaccination efforts slowed to a crawl as Pfizer upgraded its plant in Belgium

Canada’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccination efforts are expected to get a big boost starting this week as the federal government prepares for a ramp up in the delivery of shots from Pfizer-BioNTech following a month-long lull.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has stated on its website that it expects more than 335,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be delivered this week, though the company says the figure will be closer to 400,000.

That is because the health agency’s number is based on five doses per vial, even though the federal government recently agreed with Pfizer’s request to have six doses administered per vial.

Either way, the expected delivery will represent the single largest shipment to Canada since the start of the pandemic as Pfizer continues scaling up production after a month-long slowdown while it expanded a plant in Belgium.

Canada’s vaccination efforts slowed to a crawl during that time, taking delivery of 339,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine between Jan. 18 and last week rather than the promised 1.15 million.

Pfizer is expected to deliver an even larger shipment next week, and has said it will make good on its promise to deliver a total of 4 million doses by the end of March.

The new deliveries will be welcomed by provinces and territories, which have administered the vast majority of the vaccines that they have received.

They will also likely ease some of the pressure on the federal Liberal government, which has been accused of mismanaging what amounts to the largest mass-vaccination effort in Canadian history.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week acknowledged the struggle with deliveries, but said things will get better in the weeks ahead, and even better than that in April, when Canada is expecting as many as one million doses a week.

“We’re approaching something we’re calling the big lift,” he said Thursday in a virtual roundtable with nurses and doctors from around Canada.

Yet the problems aren’t entirely over. Moderna — the other company whose vaccine has been approved for use in Canada so far — has confirmed its next shipment on Feb. 22 will be only 168,000 doses, two-thirds of what had been promised.

Moderna, which delivers once every three weeks, shipped 180,000 doses last week — 80 per cent of the promised amount.

In addition, Pfizer’s deliveries will only meet the promised number of doses if medical professionals can adjust to extracting six doses instead of five from every vial.

Getting that sixth dose requires the use of a low dead-volume syringe, which traps less vaccine in the needle and syringe after an injection.

Canada has now ordered 72 million of those syringes, and two million were delivered last week.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander overseeing Canada’s vaccine distribution, has said those are being shipped to the provinces to be ready for Monday, though no provinces reported receiving any as of Thursday.

Provincial governments are also concerned about how easy it will be to get that sixth dose, even with the special syringes.

To date, Canada has received about 928,000 doses from Pfizer and 515,000 from Moderna.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

File photo
Leduc RCMP request assistance to identify armed robbery suspect

Leduc RCMP are searching for suspect involved in an armed robbery at the Leduc Giant Tiger.

file photo
UPDATE: Leduc RCMP, Millet Fire Department and more on scene at serious multi-vehicle collision

Traffic is expected to be diverted for several hours and alternative travel routes are recommended.

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Thousands of protesters make their way through the downtown core during a Black Lives Matter protest in Ottawa, Friday June 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
MPs’ study of systemic racism in policing concludes RCMP needs new model

Chair of the House public safety committee says it’s time for a reckoning on ‘quasi-military’ structure

A case filled with packages of boneless chicken breasts is shown in a grocery store Sunday, May 10, 2020, in southeast Denver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-David Zalubowski
One million chickens euthanized during labour dispute at Quebec slaughterhouse

Premier says waste amounts to 13 per cent of the province’s chicken production thrown in the garbage

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., Thursday, June 17, 2021. A joint federal-provincial review has denied an application for an open-pit coal mine in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, saying its impacts on the environment and Indigenous rights aren’t worth the economic benefits it would bring. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Panel says Grassy Mountain coal mine in Alberta Rockies not in public interest

Public hearings on the project in southern Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass region were held last fall

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on Friday, February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
U.S. border restrictions to remain in place until at least July 21

Safety minister says Canada, U.S. extending restrictions on non-essential international travel

The Sylvan Lake Gulls show off the home jerseys (white) and their way jerseys at the Gulls Media Day on June 17, before the season opener. Following the media day, the team took to the field for their first practise. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Gulls ready to throw first pitch as construction continues

The Gulls inaugural season kicks off June 18 with a game against the Edmonton Prospects

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Most Read