Canada to see 1st Johnson & Johnson shipments next week, but no more until June

Click to play video: 'Minister Anand says Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on schedule for end of April'
Minister Anand says Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on schedule for end of April
WATCH: Minister Anand says Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on schedule for end of April – Apr 9, 2021

Canada is on track to receive its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson‘s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine next week, but it will be several weeks before we receive another.

Approximately 300,000 doses will arrive in Canada “the week of April 26” and will begin to be distributed to provinces during the first week of May, said Maj-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is overseeing logistical planning for Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts.

Officials are working with the company to determine exactly what date the doses will arrive, but any further shipment isn’t expected until June, according to Joelle Paquette, the director-general responsible for vaccine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

The ministry previously said more deliveries could be coming later in the spring and into the summer. Neither Fortin nor Paquette provided any reason for the month-long gap in deliveries.

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However, on April 13, federal U.S. health agencies recommended a “pause” on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s shot after several reports of blood clots in recipients. A decision is expected Friday on whether to end the pause, following nearly two weeks of data analysis.

Health Canada has stood by the approval of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s vaccines.

Canada is also facing a setback with its AstraZeneca doses. Fortin said an expected shipment of one million vaccine doses from the Serum Insitute of India won’t arrive at the end of this month “as the situation in India continues to be the way it is.”

The country is currently grappling with a deadly surge in cases, in part fuelled by a concerning new variant emerging there. A significant portion of the doses being made in India is being diverted to its own domestic vaccination campaign, with export controls disrupting international arrangements.

Click to play video: 'Health Canada monitoring Johnson & Johnson pause in U.S., will take action if necessary'
Health Canada monitoring Johnson & Johnson pause in U.S., will take action if necessary

“We are continuing to work with the Serum Institute on delivery of its vaccine to Canada. They are committed to supplying the vaccine, with 1.5 million doses left to be delivered,” Fortin said, adding that the target is still on pace for the end of June.

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“Given the situation in India, there is a delay at the moment.”

Fortin was quick to point out a significant increase in COVID-19 vaccine doses coming from Pfizer alone in May.

“While we don’t have huge numbers of Johnson & Johnson at this time, we don’t have clarity or line of sight on AstraZeneca in the short term… The total amount of vaccine doses this quarter alone is well above 40 million,” he said.

“We will feel a significant increase the week after next.”

Pfizer has been consistently delivering more than one million shots to Canada each week for more than a month. That trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Last week, the government announced a new agreement for eight million more doses, which will funnel into Canada in batches through May, June and July. The company has also agreed to move another 400,000 doses from the third quarter of this year into June.

Moderna threw a wrench in Canada’s vaccine shipment plans on Friday. Due to production issues, Moderna’s shipment to Canada for next week has been reduced to 650,000 doses from the previously projected 1.2 million.

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“We hope to have clarity on numbers — shipment sizes and dates — very, very soon,” Fortin said.

— with files from The Canadian Press and Reuters

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