Even with New COVID-19 Vaccine Approvals, Rollout Won’t Increase Before April

Even with the two new COVID-19 vaccines under regulatory scrutiny, Canada’s vaccine supply is unlikely to increase before April.

The country’s rollout currently depends on vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna, both of which are in short supply amid overwhelming global demand.

Canada is expected to receive a total of six million doses by the end of March, enough to vaccinate three million Canadians on a two-dose per-person regime.

Delayed shipments of Pfizer vaccine to Canada will cause short-term national delays, federal officials confirmed Thursday. They also released a fact sheet showing how many people could be vaccinated with all of the yet-to-be approved vaccines for which Canada has signed a purchase agreement.

If other vaccines apart from the Pfizer and Moderna products are approved in the coming months, 10 million more Canadians could be vaccinated by the end of June, making for a collective total of 23 million. However, the approvals would not boost supply in Q1, which spans January to March.

Despite supply chain hiccups, Canada continued to be “on track” to receive the four million doses allocated from Pfizer by the end of March, said deputy chief public health director Dr. Howard Njoo.

Major-General Dany Fortin, head of the country’s vaccine distribution efforts, said despite some provinces being “disproportionately” impacted by the Pfizer-BioNTech shortage, Canada has managed to distribute 1.1 million vaccines across provinces and territories.

Canada has administered some 700,000 shots – that accounts for roughly 1.7 percent of the population who have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna products. In Ontario, about 40,000 people have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

Meanwhile, Health Canada regulators are still reviewing clinical trial data for both the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson products. Three other vaccine candidates included in Thursday’s vaccine supply projection are not yet in the rolling review phase.

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