B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Tuesday an unexpected announcement by drug-maker Pfizer is a “significant blow” to B.C.’s vaccine timeline, but one the government will deal with.
The pharmaceutical company told the Canadian government that Canada will not receive any of its vaccine doses next week due to delivery delays that have hit countries around the world.
Deliveries will start to pick up in the first weeks of February.
Dix said B.C. was expecting 5,800 doses next week and the news that none will be arriving will mean a change to the province’s vaccination program.
“What it will mean in a general sense is that we’ll have to devote more of the Pfizer that we have, which is a small amount, to two things: finishing up long-term care homes that haven’t been done, and the other is second doses because we have to, under our plan, provide second doses after 35 days and that’s particularly important to finish our work in long-term care,” Dix said.
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Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is in charge of Canada’s vaccine rollout, said the numbers of vaccine deliveries will start to pick back up in the first weeks of February.
He said the number of doses Canada will receive in those first two weeks of February has yet to be clarified, and they’re expecting to know more specifics by Thursday.
Despite this reduction, the government remains optimistic that Pfizer will be able to catch up after the delay, given that the delay is happening so Pfizer can boost its manufacturing capacity.
B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said Monday that while a delay is not a good thing, B.C. is still on the right timeline.
“We are still on track to protect those most vulnerable by the end of March and starting in April to expand dramatically the access to vaccine to people across the province to protect us all,” Henry said.
— With files from Rachel Gilmore