Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the government will buy three million more vaccine doses from Pfizer than originally planned – in an effort to secure more of the product that has become the backbone of Canada’s immunization campaign.
Trudeau said Canada’s current order of 48 million doses from Pfizer will be fully delivered by August. Officials initially expected the full Canadian allocations to arrive sometime between July and September.
The National Immunization Advisory Committee recently revised its guidelines to allow some AstraZeneca vaccine recipients to choose a second dose of a Pfizer product. To meet the growing demand for Pfizer’s product, the federal government has ordered an additional 3 million doses, scheduled to arrive in September.
That means Canada is on track to receive 51 million doses of Pfizer this year – enough to fully immunize 25.5 million people.
Trudeau said Canada will receive more than 2 million doses of Pfizer each week through the end of August. Nine million doses are due in July and 9.1 million are expected in August – supplies that should ensure Canada achieves its full vaccination target for all Canadians who want a shot by the end of September.
Pfizer’s early and more substantial deliveries will fill the gap left by Moderna, which has proven to be a less reliable supplier of vaccines. The Massachusetts-based vaccine maker has experienced product problems in its factories in Europe and has repeatedly revised or set delivery dates.
Canada has received 5.7 million doses from Moderna but the company’s shipments have been more or less sporadic than expected since April 1. Moderna delivered or identified less than half of the 12.3 million doses initially promised for the second quarter.
“We will continue to secure the shipments so that everyone can have their photos,” Trudeau said. “At the pace we’re going, that goal is within reach.”
With 25 million doses given so far, 65 percent of all eligible Canadians — people 12 or older — have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Trudeau said Canada has the highest percentage of citizens who received the first doses among the G-20 countries.
But few Canadians got their second dose. Only 6.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
“The more people vaccinated, the safer we are and the closer we are all to getting through this crisis,” Trudeau said. “You can be hopeful about this summer and fall. Let’s start looking forward to more of what we love, from camping to dinner with friends.”
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Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, also provided an update on the number of COVID-19 cases today.
The numbers were significantly far from their mid-April peak, with 73 percent fewer cases reported daily. An average of 2,300 new infections are now reported each day nationwide, down from 9,000 at the peak.
There are also 47 percent fewer people with COVID-19 in hospitals now than there were six weeks ago. The number of ICU admissions is down 31 percent from April.
Tam said that while most vaccine recipients have already received their appointments for their second doses, she urged Canadians to check with local public health officials about getting early appointments, given the recent surge in vaccine supplies.
“Getting that second dose is important not just to protect you but to build immunity in your community. It’s a win-win,” she said.
“They are essential for boosting your immune system and building a stronger, longer-lasting immunity.”