Canada secures 20M more Pfizer doses as vaccine makers monitor 2nd dose controversy

WATCH: Coronavirus — Procurement minister says feds, provinces must work together regarding vaccine distribution

Whether Canada complies with the recommendations laid out by coronavirus vaccine drugmakers will play a role in negotiations for earlier doses, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday.

The announcement came as the country secured an additional 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNtech’s COVID-19 vaccine, which are expected to be distributed this year.

By Thursday, at least 548,950 doses of the two-part vaccines had been administered, according to the latest numbers from the federal government.

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Canada in agreement to buy 20M more Pfizer vaccines, Trudeau says

However, this has not been without its challenges.

As of Tuesday, 373,418 people in Canada had been vaccinated, data from showed.

Canada’s slow vaccination rollout has been labelled “embarrassing,” by public health experts, and initial concerns that the provinces would run out of available vaccine doses motivated the government to look at how far apart each vaccine’s second booster dose could be taken from the first.

“In our negotiations with the vaccine manufacturers, they, of course, are concerned when the recommended doses, based on their clinical trials, are not being followed,” Anand said.

“They are also concerned when they see that vaccines are not being utilized, vaccines that have been delivered are in freezers, et cetera.”

According to Anand, both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech would like to see their doses used as soon as possible, and would like “all jurisdictions” to follow the recommendations “based on the science.”

The better provinces and territories are at meeting these requests, “the stronger position that I have at the negotiating table in pushing for earlier and earlier deliveries,” she said.

Pfizer and BioNtech have said there is no evidence their vaccine will stay effective against COVID-19 if its second dose is taken after the recommended 21 days. Similarly, Moderna has said it can’t comment on whether the vaccine will work if the second dose is not injected within 28 days.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada that with the additional 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine — which are expected to arrive in Canada by April or May — the country could expect to receive 80 million doses between Moderna and Pfizer before the year’s end. 

“We are on track to have every Canadian who wants a vaccine receive one by September,” he said.

“If we can do it even quicker than that, that would be great news. The quicker everyone gets vaccinated, the quicker we’re going to be able to get back to a semblance of normality.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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