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Federal govt's calculation of Pfizer doses arriving in Canada source of confusion

Last Updated Jan 28, 2021 at 6:48 pm PST

FILE - A bottle of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is seen on a table before Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly received an injection Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The head of Canada's COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts is trying to clear up confusion around promised deliveries

Ottawa claims we will get promised 4 million doses from Pfizer by end of March, but some premiers say that's not true

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is turning into a numbers game.

Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, who heads up Canada’s vaccine rollout efforts, is standing by guarantees that Pfizer will deliver four million doses of its vaccine to this country by the end of March.

However, some premiers say that’s just not true. Premier Scott Moe is among those disputing the numbers, saying the federal government “informed the provinces that Pfizer shipments will be cut to 3.5 million to the end of March and that every province will see its allocation reduced.”

Asked several times about the discrepancy in numbers, Fortin explained the mismatch in numbers boils down to how many doses Pfizer expects can be drawn from a single vial versus what is regulated by Health Canada currently.

“We are doing the math with five doses per vial. Pfizer is doing the math with six doses per vial,” Fortin said.

“Pfizer is using a different calculation than we, that my team is currently using. And what we have shared with provinces is a conservative figure of five doses per vial until it changes … if it gets authorized.”

As it stands, Canada is operating under regulations that say each vial is supposed to offer five doses of vaccine. Pfizer has asked the agency to revise its regulation, allowing for six doses to be drawn from each vial with the use of a special syringe.

“That’s with Health Canada colleagues and we’ll see how that pans out. And Pfizer’s very much aware of that and will plan accordingly, and scale up their numbers if that’s what is required. But they have assured us four million by the end of March. So the planning figures can be misleading and we’ll ensure that we have good, meaningful, bilateral discussions with provinces to assure them of what we’re currently thinking.”

If Health Canada allows immunizers to draw 6 doses per vial instead of 5, Fortin says the figures the provinces have will be updated to 4 million doses by the end of March.

“There are lots of discussions about the optimization of the quantities of their product. Those discussions are taking place with Health Canada colleagues and that’s being assessed by them at this time. So I’m not at liberty to speak to this,” he said.

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Meanwhile, temporary delays in Pfizer deliveries continue for Canada, with no shipments arriving from the company this week.

This is because the manufacturer is making changes to its facility in Europe in order to increase production long term.

Fortin said on Thursday that allocations for the next two weeks are also lower than expected.

He added Pfizer has confirmed there is about a 50 per cent cut in global shipments for about four weeks.