Procurement Minister Anita Anand made the announcement on Wednesday morning after Pfizer had tweeted news of the deal shortly before markets opened earlier that day.
“We are increasingly focused on the next stage of our recovery, including preparing Canada for mass vaccinations,” said Anand in a press conference, stressing the need to diversify supply chains.
“Today we are taking an important step forward.”
Pfizer is currently working on four experimental coronavirus vaccines and Moderna is also working on what’s been described as among the leading candidates for a vaccine.
Anand said the agreements will be for “millions of doses” but didn’t specify an exact amount, adding that the goal is to make sure “Canadians are at the front of the line when a vaccine becomes available.”
Any vaccine would still need to be approved by Health Canada before being rolled out.
“The contracts reflect the requirement for Health Canada approval and in particular, once that has occurred we are expecting deliveries, if all goes well, in 2021,” Anand said.
She was pressed several times on why she would not give the amount of vaccines being ordered.
Anand said the government is taking an approach that includes both firm orders and also options on purchasing more from suppliers, but said she will wait to share details on doses ordered while negotiations with other suppliers are ongoing.
“We are very, very intensely negotiating multiple agreements with multiple suppliers,” she said.
“The information on doses will come.”
Innovation and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains added at the press conference that the government will also be injecting more funding into both vaccine research as well as research into treatments in the form of a new task force.
“Until we can immunize all Canadians, we must also focus on treatments for those who contract the virus,” said Bains.
Pfizer also last month inked a deal with the U.S. government to supply the first 100 million doses of the vaccine it is developing in December.
More to come.
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