Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that he had recently spoken with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who confirmed the delivery.
Once the March target is met, Trudeau said the next batch of Pfizer’s shots will be accelerated and arrive in Canada “sooner” than previously projected.
“We’ve brought forward millions of doses in Quarter 2 so that we will receive 10.8 million doses of Pfizer between April and June,” he told reporters at a news conference.
The remaining committed doses from Pfizer will funnel into the country in the third quarter of the year, he said.
In addition, the federal government has also upped its order of vaccine doses from Moderna, purchasing an additional four million shots that are expected to “arrive over the summer.”
The contract amendments mean Canada will receive a total of 23 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna combined by the end of the second quarter, and a cumulative total of 84 million doses by the end of September.
“That’s part of the reason why we can say with such confidence that anyone who wants a vaccine in Canada can get one by the end of September,” he said.
While under intense scrutiny, Trudeau and federal officials have been unyielding on their vaccine rollout plan and the lofty goals set for the country.
Despite a handful of delivery delays, questionable setbacks and finger-pointing at manufacturers, Trudeau has come to defend the targets repeatedly.
The ultimate goal — perhaps the most scrutinized — is that everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be by September.
He doubled down on that Friday.
“In total, Canada will have 84 million doses of both vaccines currently approved by the end of September,” he said.
“So any doses from AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson or others, that may be approved in the coming months, will be in addition to this.”
Health Canada has not yet made a decision on three other potential vaccines — AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. The agency recently said it was in its “final stages” of reviewing the AstraZeneca candidate. It is already in use in several other countries.
Previously, the federal government suggested its September vaccine target could hinge on the approval of other vaccine candidates. Trudeau’s announcement Friday seems to suggest that is no longer the case, and that any other shots that get approved will be a welcome addition.
There are potentially 20 million more doses on tap for Canada from those companies, but even if approved, Canada is unlikely to get doses from the three aforementioned companies directly until at least April.
Another 20 million doses could nearly double the spring vaccination go.
Despite criticism, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts, emphasized that the speed of the rollout over the last few months was, generally, to be expected.
The scale-up of deliveries and shipments is on track to start next week, he said.
Coupled with Health Canada’s approval to extract six doses from a single Pfizer vial, Fortin was cautiously optimistic that the headaches will soon be behind us.
“Despite temporary delays, efforts are going as expected thanks to the collaboration from all levels of government,” he said. “We expect to share information with provinces as soon as possible.”
Trudeau echoed that Friday, saying the updated schedule for Pfizer through May and onward will be shared with the provinces and territories soon, “so they can prepare to get all those doses into people’s arms.”
— with files from The Canadian Press
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