Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that Canada is contracted to receive up to 249,000 of the initial doses in December.
Pending approval from Health Canada, Trudeau said the first shipment of doses is “tracking for delivery next week” and that shipments will continue to arrive in 2021.
“We’re facing the largest immunization in the history of our country,” he said.
“This is no small task, which is why we have a clear plan. Our government, through the National Operations Center, has been working with the provinces and territories to ensure we’re ready to roll out vaccine doses as soon as they’re approved and delivered.”
Canada has signed on to buy at least 20 million doses from the American pharmaceutical company, with the first four million tentatively slated to arrive in the first three months of 2021. The deal also gives Canada the option to buy another 56 million doses.
The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses.
The company’s final analysis from its clinical trials shows its vaccine is 95 per cent effective, has no serious side effects, and protects older adults.
Health Canada’s review of Pfizer’s candidate is still ongoing but is expected to be completed soon.
Trudeau said the vaccine’s extremely cold storage requirements set up “significant logistical challenges.” He said the goal is to have a batch on-hand and properly stored in Canada upon approval from Health Canada.
“We hope Health Canada will approve the vaccine this week and that we’ll be able to deliver that vaccine next week,” he said.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, added that the process should reassure Canadians that “any vaccine that’s approved here is safe and effective.”
“That’s why we’re waiting on Health Canada’s decision,” he said.
Canada has been reviewing Pfizer’s vaccine alongside the United States and Europe, but the U.K. was the first Western country to give emergency authorization to a candidate.
Britain approved Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 2.
It intensified pressure on regulators in both the U.S. and Canada, and ultimately cleared the way for a massive vaccination campaign in the U.K., which is due to begin this week.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will meet on Dec. 10 to consider whether to give the vaccine the go-ahead.
Russia and China approved vaccines without waiting for large-scale efficacy tests to be completed.
This is a breaking news story. More information to come.
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