Premier Jason Kenney suggested this week that the province begin working on a solution to COVID-19 vaccine shortages.
In addition to calls to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kenney said in a Facebook Live Q and A Tuesday that the province has looked at potentially securing doses independent of the federal government.
He said of the 15 or so COVID-19 vaccines that are available only about three are ready for widespread distribution. He noted the federal government has exclusive procurement deals with about eight or nine producers of the vaccine.
Kenney has directed Alberta officials to look for ways for Alberta to procure additional doses of the vaccine from those other sources.
“We are in the very preliminary stage on that,” Kenney said.
“Let me be clear, a province with four and a half million people is not going to have the same purchasing power to get priority access in production for any vaccine, versus huge jurisdictions.”
He said it is unlikely Alberta will be able to jump the queue over countries like the U.S.A., U.K. or Isreal.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Wednesday that if the province was to go independent of the federal government, the vaccine they procured would still need Health Canada’s approval before they could bring it in.
“In terms of the purchasing, certainly if there is an approved vaccine that is available for extra purchase – again I think it is all of our goals to get the vaccine to as many Albertans as soon as possible if that’s able to be done through the licensed and regulated products,” she said.
Kenney added Thursday that Alberta had already vaccinated 66,500 people, including 8,500 on Wednesday.
Thursday, federal officials said Canada will have received a total of 929,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the week.
Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, says that includes the delivery of 380,000 fresh doses this week alone.
The shipment is set to include about 208,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and 181,000 doses of the one developed by Moderna.
Fortin says weekly deliveries will grow to one million each from both companies by April.
–With files from The Canadian Press