|The federal government has announced that Pfizer-BioNTech will move up a shipment of its vaccines slated for delivery in late summer to June, bringing the total vaccine count from the pharmaceutical giant to more than nine million doses for that month alone.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday the new total – up from an original target of more than four million – is in addition to the scheduled batches from Moderna and AstraZeneca.
Canada is set to receive its largest shipment of vaccines – 3.3 million – this week from a variety of producers, followed by one million a week from Pfizer alone until the end of May. The government maintains the country is still on its way to obtain 44 million vaccine doses by the end of June.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand also announced on Tuesday that deliveries of the one-shot Johnson Johnson vaccine will start at the end of April.
In a subsequent interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play, Anand said the government did not pay a extra to accelerate the timeline of Pfizer doses to arrive in Q2.
“We do not pay extra for them to move those doses from one quarter to the next. The result of our negotations and Canada’s considerable pressure on the supplier has been useful, and they are responding by providing more and more doses earlier and earlier for which we are grateful,” she said.
As Canada embarks on its highly anticipated ramp-up phase of the national mass immunization campaign, certain provinces are facing a daunting third wave of the virus and its mutations.
The highest populated provinces are seeing the biggest uptick. Ontario health officials reported 2,336 new cases, and 14 deaths on Tuesday, while Quebec reported 864 new cases and seven additional deaths. Meanwhile British Columbia is reporting 777 new cases as the province heads into a three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown.
Trudeau said while vaccinations are making a difference in places including long-term care residences, the rate of hospitalizations is increasing across the country.
“Variants of concern, which can spread more easily and make people even sicker, are increasing quickly,” he said, adding that the federal government’s support is readily available to provinces that need to enforce further restrictions.
He also cautioned against any unnecessary gatherings heading into the Easter long weekend.
I know Ive said the same thing before every major holiday over the last year but this time whats different is that even if the end of the pandemic is in sight, the variants mean the situation is even more serious. Were entering the final stretch of this crisis, we just need to stay strong a little longer, Trudeau said.