Souris-Moose Mountain MP Dr. Robert Kitchen has been staying current on the status of COVID vaccine deliveries to Canada, as he is a member of House committees that hold the government to account.
He has been fielding many emails and inquiries from constituents about what is happening and how we ended up in this position of scrambling to get decent vaccine supplies.
There are two main suppliers of vaccine currently, Moderna and Pfizer, with deliveries now starting to resume from Pfizer after a week of no supply, and a week of greatly reduced numbers of vaccines.
This current week Canada is supposed to receive about 335,000 doses, and then 395,000 the following week, with the government saying the company is to supply four million doses by the end of March.
Moderna indicated they would have a “significant supply disruption”, but no numbers have been provided what that means in doses.
“We will get a better sense of how this will play out in early March,” said MP Kitchen.
On the question of why vaccines aren’t being produced in Canada, the MP said the procurement minister “somewhat” answered this at committee recently.
“The minister claims all seven companies were asked to manufacture at least some of their vaccine in Canada, and all declined. We are told this is because Canadian manufacturers lacked the capacity for mass production,” said MP Kitchen.
He added that Calgary vaccine maker Providence has received no government assistance despite their proposals to government, and there has been no answers as to why.
The MP noted that the government had initially tried to get vaccines from CanSino, a Chinese company, but China then blocked exports of the vaccine to Canada. The government then declined multiple offers from Canada’s private sector to develop and manufacture the vaccine, instead pouring some $100 million into a new vaccine facility in Montreal that won’t be online until 2022.
Other makers, such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, are still under review by Health Canada, with AstraZeneca “within days” of being approved. Once this comes through, the prime minister said they are supposed to deliver 20 million doses before June, but later this was shown to be wrong, as the delivery schedule won’t be released until after approval by Health Canada.
“One can only hope these two drugs now at Health Canada are approved soon and can deliver quickly, and that the supply disruptions from Pfizer and Moderna are truly temporary,” said MP Kitchen.
“We should have a better sense of if we will meet the scattered timelines and see the aggressive ramp-up of vaccination deliveries we have been promised, within the next couple weeks. If that does indeed happen, the next challenge will be on the province to actually administer the massive influx of vaccines,” he added.