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PM mistakenly claims AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine delivery timeline too soon

Last Updated Feb 5, 2021 at 1:50 pm PST

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Government officials have confirmed the prime minister misspoke about deliveries of COVID-19 vaccine

Justin Trudeau said Friday he was told by AstraZeneca's CEO that the full shipment to Canada would be coming in June

The mistaken words came as Trudeau was trying to defend the country's vaccine program

OTTAWA – The prime minister misspoke during his regular COVID-19 briefing about the amount of vaccine coming from one drug company, causing some false hope for Canada’s immunization efforts.

Justin Trudeau said Friday during the question period that the country would be receiving the full order of AstraZeneca’s by the end of June. He said he had confirmation from the drug company’s CEO, however, government officials with public service and procurement have said that isn’t the case. The timeline for AstraZeneca won’t be detailed until the vaccine is approved by Health Canada, which could come soon.

It came as Trudeau was trying to rebuild confidence in the vaccination plan.

“There’s a lot of anxiety, and there’s a lot of noise going right now. That’s why I want to assure Canadians that we are on track.”

He maintains every Canadian who wants a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to have one by September.

Justin Trudeau says he has been speaking regularly with the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna, who have repeatedly assured him the two drugmakers will meet their contractual obligations of delivering six million doses by the end of March, despite ongoing disruptions.

RELATED: Trudeau gov’t faces criticism after news Canada will accept vaccines from COVAX

In the COVAX controversy, the prime minister says this program is meant for countries to buy for themselves as well as developing nations, and receiving doses was always publicly apart of the plan.

Critics have accused the federal government of taking shots away from poorer countries.

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.

Meanwhile, the major problems with delivering the shots to Canadians are having a big impact on support for the Liberals. A new poll shows worries over the slow and delayed rollout of the vaccine has eroded the support for the federal government.

The Abacus Data poll suggests if an election were held today, the Liberals would claim a narrow victory with 32 per cent support, a number that is down three points since last month.

-with files from Hana Mae Nassar and News Staff