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'I'm angry and concerned': Canada won't secure Pfizer vaccines next week as Ontario grapples with distribution

Last Updated Jan 19, 2021 at 2:58 pm EST

Canada will not receive any new shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines next week as Ontario scrambles to adjust its distribution efforts that include vaccinating the province’s most vulnerable.

On Tuesday, the federal government said it was expecting a 75 percent reduction in deliveries due to capacity upgrades at Pfizer’s European plant, something Major Gen. Danny Fortin and Premier Doug Ford acknowledge is both considerable and troubling.

“We are in desperate need of those vaccines from the federal government,” Ford said.

“The news from the feds that Canada won’t get any new Pfizer vaccines next week, and far fewer than expected in the coming weeks, is troubling. It’s a massive concern.”

Just moments before Fortin announced there wouldn’t be any shipments next week, Ontario issued an updated delivery schedule saying the province expected its deliveries to be down.

This led to Ford saying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to put heavy pressure on Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

“If I was in (Trudeau’s) shoes, I’d be on that phone call every single day,” Ford said.

“I’d be up that guy’s yin-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him … I would not stop until we get these vaccines.”


RELATED: Trudeau defends government’s handling of COVID-19 vaccine distribution


Only 171,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive over the next two weeks, instead of the nearly 418,000 previously expected.

As part of Pfizer’s delay, the provincial government says the company anticipates production will ramp up in February, leading to more doses being secured by the country.

Fortin, meantime, is urging patience as the country works through the fluctuations in shipments of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over the next few weeks.

In early January, Fortin said Canada was expected to receive six million doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines by the end of March.

At the time, Major Gen. said Moderna’s shots will arrive every three weeks while Pfizer’s vaccine shipments will continue to arrive on weekly basis.

“Numbers are expected to go back to what we originally planned,” Fortin added. “Pfizer continues to tell us that they expect to be able to deliver up to four million doses by the end of this quarter, so by the end of March, 31.”

Ontario’s Premier called on incoming U.S. President Joe Biden, who is set to be inaugurated tomorrow, to help out his Canadian neighbours.

“We have to be on these guys like a blanket. I would be outside these guys houses. Why not Canada? That is my question to Pfizer. There is a Pfizer plant six hours [away]… we need help once again. You have a new President. No more excuses,” Ford said.

In Ontario, the known reductions are substantial and vary week to week, including:

  • 5% cut for week of Jan 18th, from 83 trays to 80 trays (reduction of 3 trays)
  • 80% cut for the week of Jan 25th, from 83 trays to 15 trays (reduction of 68 trays)
  • 55% cut for the week of Feb 1st, from 147 trays to 66 trays (reduction of 81 trays)
  • 45% cut for the week of Feb 8th, from 147 trays to 79 trays (reduction of 68 trays)

 

As part of its reallocation efforts, the province will transport Moderna to more areas “to reserve Pfizer for sites that need the inventory to provide second doses.”

“Protect second doses of Pfizer through careful week by week allocation and by extending the dosing intervals to ensure that everyone who received the first dose receives a second dose,” the province said as part of its plan.

 

Ford says Ontario can’t afford to give out fewer vaccines than the province is able to administer, admitting they have met and even exceeded their targets of getting all long-term care homes vaccinated as of January 21.

“We have hit this target ahead of schedule,” Ford said. “We have completed the first round of vaccinations in over 40 percent of all long-term care homes in the province… in Toronto, Peel, Windsor, and York.”

Ford said long-term care homes in Ottawa, Simcoe and Durham have also been safely vaccinated against the virus, adding that progress continues to be made with the goal of administering vaccines in all long-term care homes by February 15.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, says the delay will result in Ontarians waiting a minimum of 21 days and up to 42 days for those who received the Pfizer vaccine outside of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.

On Monday, Toronto announced it’s being forced to pause operations at its newly-launched immunization clinic at the Metro Convention Centre citing a lack of Pfizer vaccines.

“Until vaccines are more widely available, please stay home, stay safe, and save lives,” the Premier added.

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