Canada has reached an agreement to purchase another 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today.
That doubles the amount of doses the country has locked in from the U.S. pharmaceutical giant and brings the total number scheduled to arrive this year from two approved vaccine makers to 80 million — enough to vaccinate the entire Canadian population according to the required two-dose regimen.
“From our agreements with Pfizer and Moderna alone … we are on track to have every Canadian who wants a vaccine receive one by September,” Trudeau said at a press conference outside Rideau Cottage.
“We’re going to continue working to see if we can get a few more doses, because all Canadians want this to move forward as quickly as possible.”
Canada has now committed to buying 40 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and 40 million doses from Moderna, with the option to purchase another 36 million from Pfizer-BioNTech if it chooses. Six million doses are expected to arrive by the end of March — enough to immunize 3 million people.
Trudeau’s announcement comes days after Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the federal government had chosen not to exercise its option to buy up to 16 million more doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. Those doses would not have arrived until the end of 2021.
Canada is experiencing a post-holiday surge in daily new cases, and provinces are warning that they are administering doses faster than they are being delivered. Premier Jason Kenney of Alberta said Monday that Alberta could exhaust its vaccine supply as early as next week, while B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province would run out by the end of yesterday ahead of an expected Thursday delivery.
The federal government published a delivery schedule this week that includes shipment dates and the number of doses expected to be delivered to the provinces and territories until the end of February.
“We’re continuing to work with various vaccine companies to accelerate, to move forward, to get more doses for Canadians as quickly as possible,” Trudeau said. “Right now, we’ve been able to give very clear direction and information to the provinces on how many vaccine doses they’ll be receiving every week between now and the end of February, which allows them to plan and manage their rollout processes.”
At a separate news conference, Anand said negotiations with Pfizer have led the manufacturer to move up the delivery of two million doses originally scheduled the third quarter to the second quarter.
“This is the work of my department and me every single day — that is, to accelerate deliveries of vaccines into this country,” Anand said. “Once we enter the second and third quarters, Canadians will see a dramatic acceleration in the pace of scheduled vaccine deliveries.”
Anand said Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are scheduled to deliver 20 million doses between April and June, although that is subject to change.
Canada gave the green light to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccines last month. Independent regulators at Health Canada are still reviewing other vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca-Oxford and Janssen Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
As of Monday night, more than 377,560 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Canada, according to a third-party tally.