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

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

Just Posted

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
MY COVID STORY: From doctor to patient

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

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)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Winlaw artist Lou Lynn is one of eight Canadians to win a Governor General's award this year. Photo: Janet Dwyer
Winlaw artist Lou Lynn wins Governor General’s award

Lynn is among eight artists honoured throughout Canada

The winged floater mussel can be spotted at Arrow Lake. Photo: Bill Chapman
LETTER: Native mussels visible at Arrow Lakes near Castlegar

Low water levels revealing native mussels

Castlegar’s Gabrielle Herle (right) will be one of the speakers at the conference. She is seen here with Wendy Gaskill from Chinook Scaffolding accepting their Contractor of the Year Award in 2019 from the Builders Code Champion Awards. Photo: Submitted
Girls in STEAM and Leadership Conference offered free for all girls in the Kootenay Boundary

Virtual conference for girls in grades 8 to 12 will be taking place on March 8

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Most Read