Canada firms up AstraZeneca, Pfizer deliveries as vaccine plans accelerate

Federal officials finalizing deal bring in 1.5m AstraZeneca doses

Mass vaccination clinic at Creekside Community Recreation Centre in Vancouver | Photo: Vancouver Coastal Health

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday his government is finalizing a deal with the Americans that would see 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca plc vaccine delivered to Canada before the end of the month.

While the AstraZeneca vaccine is already being administered to Canadians following regulatory approval last month, the Americans have not yet given it the greenlight, leaving doses to sit idle in U.S. facilities.

“The doses will have a minimum shelf life of 60 days but, as I said, we are finalizing those details and I will share them with Canadians as soon as we have them,” Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said during a briefing with Trudeau.

She did not clarify when asked if the 60-day expiration period applies to their manufacturing date or arrival date from the U.S.

The prime minister also confirmed two million doses of the Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) vaccine are due to arrive during the final two weeks of May.

As of a week ago, the pharmaceutical giant had committed to delivering one million doses weekly between this week and the week of May 10 but no solid numbers were available after that.

At the outset of the vaccination campaign, Canada was set to receive a combined six million doses between December and the end of March from Pfizer and Moderna Inc. (NYSE:MRNA).

With the approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the acceleration of some Pfizer deliveries, the country is now set to receive 9.5 million doses by the end of that same period.

Provincial officials B.C. unveiled their own plans Thursday to accelerate vaccinations for frontline workers as the AstraZeneca vaccine deliveries come in.

About 320,000 British Columbians are set to get the first doses of the vaccine ahead of their age groups as a result of AstraZeneca deliveries from the Serum Institute of India and the COVAX global sharing program.

Meanwhile, Trudeau took aim at Friday’s two-hour trial of Canadian Michael Spavor, who has been detained in China more than 500 days following the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018.

Canadian Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat who was arrested in China at the same time, is due for trial on Monday.

“Their arbitrary detention is completely unacceptable, as is the lack of transparency around these court proceedings,” Trudeau said, referring to diplomats from both Canada and multiple allied countries being denied access to the proceedings.

“We will continue to work tirelessly to bring them home as soon as possible.”

No verdict has been pronounced as of yet for Spavor.

torton@biv.com

@reporton