Canada is set to receive an influx of COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, as the country moves to speed up its vaccination efforts.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says it expects more than 640,000 shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in the coming days.
It represents the largest number of deliveries the country has received in a single week. The previous record was set last week when Pfizer and BioNTech delivered more than 400,000 doses of their vaccine following a month-long lull while they expanded a production plant in Europe.
The vaccine rollout is expected to ramp up across the country in the coming weeks as shipments continue:
- Canada will get 475,000 doses of the Pfizer shot this week and then scale back to 445,000 doses per week moving forward
- Canada will get 168,000 doses of the Moderna shot this week, most of these will be moved to northern and remote communities since they are easier to transport
- Pfizer has a commitment to deliver 4 million shots by the end of March
- The country is expected to get 23 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna between April and June
Federal health officials provided an updated vaccine forecast last week, estimating that by the time summer arrives the country could see over half of its residents inoculated.
Best-case forecasts consider vaccine deliveries from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax and estimate 64 per cent of the population could be fully vaccinated by the end of June.
All three vaccines are currently pending approval from Health Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged provinces to prepare for the influx of vaccine doses last week.
Several provinces have moved to expand their vaccination offerings beyond the first priority groups in long-term care homes and front-line health workers thanks to the vaccine influx in recent two weeks.
“I highlighted, and have highlighted a number of times, the magnitude of the big lift we’re going to face as our vaccine deliveries shift into the millions and millions of vaccine doses arriving in Canada, which means the provinces will need to be ready,” he said during one of his regular COVID-19 updates.
Officials in Ontario say the province has the capacity to inoculate nearly 40,000 residents per day and is building to triple or quadruple that pending federal government supply.
“We don’t think we can get at it right in the first week or 10 days of March but by the middle of March, we want to be able to start vaccinating those 80 years of age and older and we will be reaching out to them in the next week to two weeks to tell them when their opportunity is going to be,” said Hillier.
The ‘next priority’ group in Ontario’s rollout includes:
- adults 80 years of age and older
- staff, residents and caregivers in retirement homes and other congregate care settings for seniors (for example, assisted living)
- health care workers identified as the high priority level in the Ministry of Health’s guidance on Health Care Worker Prioritization
- all Indigenous adults
- adult recipients of chronic home care
The province says that people in the next priority group will be contacted by public health units to obtain vaccine appointments.
Nova Scotia and Alberta also announced detailed plans for getting vaccines to their seniors residents.
Last week, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said that health officials were looking into evidence that a single dose of the Pfizer shot could be as effective as a double dose
Original data suggested one dose gave around 50 per cent more protection against the virus while two doses gave about 95 per cent protection. Experts are now saying that was measured from the moment the vaccine was given instead of waiting two weeks to let the immune system gear up.
The promising news of an influx of deliveries comes on the heels of the country administering the first dose of the vaccine to the millionth Canadian on Friday.
With files from the Canadian Press