A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Canada could get more than one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March through a global vaccine sharing initiative known as COVAX. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Canada could get more than one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March through a global vaccine sharing initiative known as COVAX. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada to get up to 1.1 m more doses by March through global vaccine alliance

Canada had planned to vaccinate three million people by the end of March

Canada could get more than one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March through a global vaccine sharing initiative known as COVAX.

But as with most things COVID-19, vaccine-related deliveries are mired in the uncertainty of regulatory reviews and potential production delays.

The COVAX Facility, co-ordinated by the World Health Organization and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, pools funds from wealthier countries to buy vaccines for themselves and for 92 low- and middle-income nations that can’t afford to buy on their own.

Canada contributed $440 million to COVAX in September, half of which secured doses for Canada directly, from about nine vaccines that are participating in the program.

The other half goes into a pooled fund to buy doses for 20 per cent of the people in 92 low- and middle-income countries.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand tells The Canadian Press that up to 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine could arrive through COVAX by the end of March and up to 3.2 million total by the end of June.

“This represents a boost to the current six million doses expected from Pfizer and Moderna before the end of March,” said Anand.

Canada had planned to vaccinate three million people by the end of March and another 10 million people between April and June.

AstraZeneca requires two doses per person, meaning the COVAX doses could increase Canada’s vaccination plan to 3.5 million people by the end of March and between 11 million and 11.6 million by the end of June.

The extra doses could get some of Canada’s most vulnerable people vaccinated faster, but for many of the world’s poorest countries, the COVAX doses starting to ship this winter will be the first COVID-19 vaccines they will see.

Canada has now vaccinated close to a million people with at least one dose of vaccines from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

The COVAX doses are also in addition to the 20 million doses Canada purchased directly from AstraZeneca, but neither those nor the COVAX doses will start flowing until Health Canada approves the vaccine for use here.

The regulatory review is in its final stages with a decision expected by the middle of February.

The COVAX doses could begin shipping by the end of the month, but in addition to Health Canada’s approval, the World Health Organization has to issue its own regulatory approval, one of the requirements under COVAX.

That too is expected imminently.

Anand said the size of the deliveries will depend on production. Most vaccine makers, AstraZeneca included, are hitting numerous snags bringing their manufacturing lines up to full tilt.

“All countries are being given a range, given variables that are present in the supply chain at the current time,” she said.

READ MORE: Don’t post photos of vaccination cards on social media, BBB advises

Canada’s two authorized vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have both been hit with delivery delays in the last three weeks because of production issues.

AstraZeneca is facing production problems at some of its plants in Europe. The vaccine maker is in a very public fight with the European Union that led to Europe imposing export controls on vaccines made in member nations.

Canada has received assurances its doses made in Europe will still be shipped.

However, Anand said Canada’s doses of AstraZeneca from COVAX are coming from South Korea, where the vaccine maker signed a deal with SK Bioscience to manufacture their product.

“The good thing about the South Korean option is that we are able to go there and not have a concern about the EU allocations,” said Anand.

She noted that deliveries to COVAX were exempted by Europe from export controls.

Anand said it’s not finalized yet where AstraZeneca intends to manufacture Canada’s other doses.

Canada and other developed countries have been criticized for using their wealth and influence to snap up a majority of vaccines for themselves. COVAX was supposed to prevent that, and International Development Minister Karina Gould said it is working as intended.

“It was designed so that you had developed countries be part of the process to encourage them to support it, but also to give COVAX the financial support that it needs to purchase vaccines on behalf of developing countries as well,” she said.

COVAX intends to distribute about two billion doses this year, which should be enough, it believes, to vaccinate the most vulnerable including front-line health workers and seniors.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Coronavirusvaccines

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

Just Posted

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Charlie Fox was leading as of 9 p.m. with five of six main polls and one advance poll reporting. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
UPDATED: Fox expected to become new Langley school trustee

With all but the mail-in ballots counted, Fox was being acknowledged as the winner

If all goes according to plan, Langley Thunder will open the WLA 2021 season on June 23, playing Coquitlam at the Langley Events Centre (Garrett James/Langley Events Centre)
Cross your fingers: Langley Thunder are hoping to open a new WLA season in June

It depends on whether they get approval from the provincial health officer

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Feb. 28

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

The debate about in-person church services continues as people express their opinions in letters to the editor. (File photo)
LETTER: Bible clear about church services

Churches in Langley and nearby communities have held services in defiance of Public Health Orders

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Bell, lights candles on behalf of Bell’s two sons during a vigil on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO and PHOTOS: Candlelight vigil for missing Chilliwack woman sends message of hope

Small group of family, friends gathered to shine light for 23-year-old mother Shaelene Bell

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

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

Most Read