Canada to get two million Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses as provinces expand rollouts

OTTAWA — Canada is scheduled to receive two million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week as provinces continue to ramp up their immunization efforts.

The two million shots represent the only expected shipments in what should be a comparatively quiet week of vaccine arrivals after Moderna delivered one million doses ahead of schedule last week.

The next shipment of Moderna jabs isn’t due until next week, while the federal government has not said when Canada will receive more doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

The arrival of more Pfizer-BioNTech shots comes as British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec are set to expand the list of people eligible for vaccines over the next seven days.

The expansions are due largely to the steady supply of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech, which are slated to deliver two million doses a week through the month of May before increasing the weekly figure to 2.4 million in June.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing the federal government’s vaccine distribution effort, said last week that Canada was expecting another 650,000 AstraZeneca shots from the COVAX initiative.

The exact delivery schedule, however, has yet to be finalized.

Canada has also been in negotiations with the United States for more AstraZeneca doses after President Joe Biden suggested last month that Washington may release some of its unused stockpile.

Those talks come amid questions about the AstraZeneca shot, which has been linked to a new and very rare vaccine-induced blood clotting syndrome.

Twelve cases had been confirmed in Canada after about two million doses given as of Friday. Three people have died.

The AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines use a similar technology, while the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots use a new technology dubbed mRNA.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization last week recommended that Canadians who aren’t at high risk from COVID-19 may want to wait until a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna is available.

That prompted allegations that NACI was sowing the seeds of confusion and vaccine hesitancy.

Alberta and other parts of Canada remain mired in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as hospitalization rates have started to tick downward in provinces such as Ontario and Quebec.

Many parts of the country face tight restrictions, with schools closed across Ontario and Alberta and patios shut down in Montreal, Toronto and — as of this Monday — Calgary.

Provinces reported 265,509 new vaccinations administered on Sunday for a total of 15,917,555 doses given.

Nationwide, 1,248,931 people or 3.3 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 41,999.627 per 100,000.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2021.

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