Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on January 11, 2021. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the government plans to distribute more than 70,000 Pfizer-BiotNTech vaccine doses this week, but no Moderna doses amid recent delivery delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks in Halifax on January 11, 2021. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the government plans to distribute more than 70,000 Pfizer-BiotNTech vaccine doses this week, but no Moderna doses amid recent delivery delays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Canada’s sluggish COVID-19 vaccination program won’t get better this week

Health Canada could approve a third vaccine for use this week, this one from AstraZeneca.

Canada’s languid vaccination efforts have no chance of improvement this week with just 70,200 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine scheduled to start arriving.

Provinces and territories have already administered almost 90 per cent of the vaccines they have been sent. With this week’s new deliveries, there will be fewer than a quarter million doses of vaccine available to be injected this week.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander in charge of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s vaccine distribution plan, has said this should be the final week of smaller shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech, which cut Canada’s deliveries by more than two-thirds over four weeks while a production site in Belgium was expanded.

Next week Canada is supposed to get around 335,000 doses, which would be the single biggest vaccine delivery to Canada thus far. Pfizer says almost 400,000 doses are to come the week after that.

Moderna, the only other company with a vaccine approved in Canada so far, delivers its vaccine once every three weeks and its next scheduled shipment isn’t supposed to be until the week of Feb. 22.

The company also shorted Canada on expected doses during last week’s delivery, a problem the company attributed to a slower-than-expected ramp-up of production with its Swiss-manufacturing partner Lonza.

However Fortin said the company hasn’t given Canada a specific reason for the slowdown.

Moderna was supposed to send 230,000 doses last week and instead shipped 180,000. The week of Feb. 22 Canada was supposed to get almost 250,000 doses but Moderna has warned Canada to expect that shipment to be smaller as well.

Currently, Health Canada’s distribution schedule lists no new Moderna shipments beyond Feb. 7, as confusion over deliveries deflates Canadians’ confidence in the Liberal government’s vaccine rollout.

Health Canada could approve a third vaccine for use this week, this one from AstraZeneca.

Two more are also being reviewed, with Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine possibly ready for a decision by the end of February, and Novavax’s potentially by April.

The three together would more than double the available doses to Canada this year, but the federal government has remained tight lipped about when any of the vaccines would start being shipped.

Canada could get about 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the global vaccine sharing program known as COVAX before the end of March, though it has been heavily criticized for taking vaccines from a program that is also distributing doses to poor countries that have no direct deals with vaccine makers of their own.

AstraZeneca has also run into some concern, with South Africa cancelling the planned rollout of that vaccine when it was found to not be that effective against the B.1.351 variant of the novel coronavirus, a variant first found in that country and which now dominates the cases there.

It has been effective against the B.1.1.7 variant first found in the United Kingdom. As of Friday about 240 cases of that variant had been diagnosed in Canada and more than a dozen cases of B.1.351.

Both appear to transmit more quickly.

Weekly projections on vaccine distribution from the public health agency are fluid and subject to change.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has maintained that delivery delays are temporary, and that Pfizer and Moderna tell him Canada is still on track to receive six million doses of their two vaccines by the end of March.

READ MORE: Trudeau says government foresaw short-term delays in vaccine deliveries to Canada, planned accordingly

Health Canada projects with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna alone they will vaccinate three million people by the end of March, another 10 million in the spring, and any other Canadians who wish to be vaccinated by the end of September.

There were no new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories on Sunday, leaving a total of 1.2 million doses delivered so far.

Some 340,000 were from Moderna and 858,000 from Pfizer, according to the public health agency.

The provinces reported 11,885 new vaccinations administered Sunday for a total of about 1.08 million so far. About 175,000 people have received both required doses, and about 900,000 have received one dose thus far.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

Stock photo
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let’s find a cure for potato pox

What happened to the clean-skinned potato of my youth, asks letter writer

An app available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website can help students during COVID times. (Stock photo)
New library app can help families with online learning

Sample tests, virtual flashcards available through Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website

The Nanaimo Clippers in action at Frank Crane Arena in early 2020. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Clippers for sale as owner says hockey won’t be back to normal any time soon

Wes Mussio says he’s had numerous inquiries about the junior A club already

The current boat used by Rugged Coast Research Society for remote shoreline cleanup operations will be replaced by a landing craft that will allow society members to haul four times as much marine garbage per trip from Vancouver Island’s remote shorelines. (Agathe Bernard photo/Rugged Coast Research Society)
Nanaimo-based research group needs bigger boat for coastal cleanups

Rugged Coast Research Society raising cash for landing craft to pull trash from remote shorelines

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way into business on Nanaimo’s Bowen Road

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres

Snuneymuxw artist Eliot White-Hill, Kwulasultun is among the artists participating in the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Rain Shadow exhibit. His piece, ‘We Fell from the Sky/Together and Apart,’ depicts a Snuneymuxw creation story. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Art Gallery exhibit explores the ways people think about place

‘Rain Shadow’ features work mostly by Vancouver Island and Gulf Island artists

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Most Read