“Decisions are still being made regarding the J&J vaccine deliveries, but by all means, that contract is still in place and still able to yield vaccines for Canadians if the demand is there,” Anand said Tuesday.
The single-dose vaccine was initially lauded as a turning point for countries such as Canada looking to speed up vaccination efforts.
But after a manufacturing mishap at a U.S. manufacturing plant in Baltimore, Health Canada said it wouldn’t release more than 300,000 doses of the vaccine over quality concerns and will continue to hold them back until an American investigation into the facility is complete.
Canada has signed an agreement for 10 million doses of the J&J shot. Joelle Paquette, the director-general responsible for vaccine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, said Friday that the country could expect to receive a shipment of the vaccines by the end of June, but whether any shipments have been delivered remains unclear.
An official at Anand’s office told Global News there were no further updates on J&J deliveries at this time.
Brig. Gen. Krista Brodie, the military commander in charge of the country’s national vaccine delivery logistics, said that “at this point in time, we are not receiving a strong demand signal at all from the provinces” for J&J shots.
“We are focused on the mRNA vaccines, which are those that are really in demand by the provinces in order to accelerate those second dose strategies and to really get as many first doses as we can as soon as possible.”
J&J’s one-shot vaccine differs from Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines, which require two doses. It is an adenovirus-based vaccine that showed an overall efficacy of 66 per cent in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19 in clinical trials.
By the end of this week, Canada is expected to have received deliveries of 50 million doses of all vaccines for use by Health Canada — the vast majority of which being shots from Pfizer and Moderna.
Anand added that all eligible Canadians will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.
To date, she said the country has delivered 44 million vaccine doses to provinces and territories, and administered 36 million doses.
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that if not for the vaccines, the third wave of the pandemic would have been much deadlier.
She said she was “really struck” by how quickly infections and deaths plummeted among the most vulnerable, older populations in Canada as the vaccines began to roll out.
“We saw the numbers of cases, but also the serious outcomes decline very quickly in those populations,” she said. “All to say is, it’s even more important than than ever to keep up with the vaccinations.”
–With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz and the Canadian PressView link »