A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Canada could get more than one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March through a global vaccine sharing initiative known as COVAX. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. Canada could get more than one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March through a global vaccine sharing initiative known as COVAX. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canada to get up to 1.1 m more doses by March through global vaccine alliance

AstraZeneca requires two doses per person

OTTAWA — Canada could get more than one million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of March through a global vaccine sharing initiative known as COVAX.

But as with most things COVID-19, vaccine-related deliveries are mired in the uncertainty of regulatory reviews and potential production delays.

The COVAX Facility, co-ordinated by the World Health Organization and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, pools funds from wealthier countries to buy vaccines for themselves and for 92 low- and middle-income nations that can’t afford to buy on their own.

Canada contributed $440 million to COVAX in September, half of which secured doses for Canada directly, from about nine vaccines that are participating in the program.

The other half goes into a pooled fund to buy doses for 20 per cent of the people in 92 low- and middle-income countries.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand tells The Canadian Press that up to 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine could arrive through COVAX by the end of March and up to 3.2 million total by the end of June.

“This represents a boost to the current six million doses expected from Pfizer and Moderna before the end of March,” said Anand.

Canada had planned to vaccinate three million people by the end of March and another 10 million people between April and June.

AstraZeneca requires two doses per person, meaning the COVAX doses could increase Canada’s vaccination plan to 3.5 million people by the end of March and between 11 million and 11.6 million by the end of June.

The extra doses could get some of Canada’s most vulnerable people vaccinated faster, but for many of the world’s poorest countries, the COVAX doses starting to ship this winter will be the first COVID-19 vaccines they will see.

Canada has now vaccinated close to a million people with at least one dose of vaccines from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

The COVAX doses are also in addition to the 20 million doses Canada purchased directly from AstraZeneca, but neither those nor the COVAX doses will start flowing until Health Canada approves the vaccine for use here.

The regulatory review is in its final stages with a decision expected by the middle of February.

The COVAX doses could begin shipping by the end of the month, but in addition to Health Canada’s approval, the World Health Organization has to issue its own regulatory approval, one of the requirements under COVAX.

That too is expected imminently.

Anand said the size of the deliveries will depend on production. Most vaccine makers, AstraZeneca included, are hitting numerous snags bringing their manufacturing lines up to full tilt.

“All countries are being given a range, given variables that are present in the supply chain at the current time,” she said.

Canada’s two authorized vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have both been hit with delivery delays in the last three weeks because of production issues.

AstraZeneca is facing production problems at some of its plants in Europe. The vaccine maker is in a very public fight with the European Union that led to Europe imposing export controls on vaccines made in member nations.

Canada has received assurances its doses made in Europe will still be shipped.

However, Anand said Canada’s doses of AstraZeneca from COVAX are coming from South Korea, where the vaccine maker signed a deal with SK Bioscience to manufacture their product.

“The good thing about the South Korean option is that we are able to go there and not have a concern about the EU allocations,” said Anand.

She noted that deliveries to COVAX were exempted by Europe from export controls.

Anand said it’s not finalized yet where AstraZeneca intends to manufacture Canada’s other doses.

Canada and other developed countries have been criticized for using their wealth and influence to snap up a majority of vaccines for themselves. COVAX was supposed to prevent that, and International Development Minister Karina Gould said it is working as intended.

“It was designed so that you had developed countries be part of the process to encourage them to support it, but also to give COVAX the financial support that it needs to purchase vaccines on behalf of developing countries as well,” she said.

COVAX intends to distribute about two billion doses this year, which should be enough, it believes, to vaccinate the most vulnerable including front-line health workers and seniors.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. Health Canada is just “days away” from approving Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, adding a fourth option to Canada’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Health Canada just days away from decision on Johnson and Johnson vaccine

Johnson and Johnson was authorized in the United States last weekend

Parliament Hill is shown in Ottawa on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
In pre-budget request, cities ask Liberals for $7 billion for rapid-housing program

OTTAWA — Canada’s municipalities are asking the federal government to include $7… Continue reading

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Churches’ challenge of public health rules back in B.C. Supreme Court

Three Fraser Valley churches argue health orders interfere with charter right to freedom of religion

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels seek consistency ahead of matchup with Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels had to deal with a pang of regret… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Health Tyler Shandro to announce investments to reduce surgery wait times. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
More than 16K surgeries, procedures delayed in Alberta due to COVID-19

COVID-19 has delayed more than 16,000 surgeries and procedures in Alberta, as… Continue reading

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Dillon Dube scores hat trick for Flames in 7-3 win over Senators

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Liverpool's manager Jurgen Klopp gives instructions during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Thursday, March 4, 2021. (Phil Noble, Pool via AP)
Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Liverpool slumps to historic 5th straight loss at Anfield

Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier (14) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Flyers rally from early deficit to stun Penguins 4-3

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen reacts to a goal by Winnipeg Jets' Paul Stastny, left, during first-period NHL hockey action in Montreal on Thursday, March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Pierre-Luc Dubois scores overtime winner as Winnipeg Jets edge Montreal Canadiens 4-3

Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis (0) shoots after grabbing a rebound against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 4, 2021, in Boston. At right is Boston Celtics guard Payton Pritchard. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

Tatum scores 27, Celtics outlast depleted Raptors 132-125

International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel answers a question during a news conference addressing hockey issues at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Mark Humphrey
IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

IIHF postpones women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May

Quebec Premier François Legault chairs a virtual news conference Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. The premiers from the left are: John Horgan, B.C.; Jason Kenney, Alberta; Scott Moe, Saskatchewan; Legault, Quebec; Brian Pallister, Manitoba; Doug Ford, Ontario; and Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Most Read