Ontario to get zero shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine next week amid delivery delay
Published Tuesday, January 19, 2021 8:05AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 20, 2021 5:13AM EST
The provincial government is expecting no shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine next week amid a delay in deliveries due to production issues.
Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, chair of Ontario's COVID-19 task force, said today that the federal government confirmed Ontario will receive zero shipments of the vaccine next week as Pfizer is dealing with delays in shipments due to production issues in Belgium.
"What Pfizer and I believe the federal government have said to us is that yes we have had some short-term shortages, some short-term disruptions to the allocations but we will make up in late Februrary/March what we missed. And therefore, in the first quarter- our Phase one- we will have the same number of vaccines allocated to us that we expected all along and that we've been planning to use," Hillier said during a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
The Canadian government announced on Tuesday morning that the country is not going to get any shipments of Pfizer vaccines next week.
Canada's coordinator of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, said Canada's shipments of the vaccine will be cut by nearly one-fifth this week and drop to zero next week during a press conference.
On Friday, the Canadian government said that nearly half of the doses expected by Pfizer-BioNTech are delayed and will arrive in the next month.
Pfizer’s facility is undergoing modifications in the coming weeks to increase the number of doses it can ship, according to Pfizer Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted that most Canadians will still be vaccinated by the fall if they want the vaccine.
Before the federal government's announcement on Tuesday, provincial health officials said the province was only expecting an 80% cut in next week's shipment, which would result in 15 trays of the Pfizer vaccine compared to a promised 83 trays.
Each tray contains approximately 975 doses.
The provincial government already faced a five per cent cut in vaccines from 83 to 80 trays this week due to the delay.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today that he's "angry at the situation" that other countries seem to be getting more shipments of the vaccine compared to Canada.
"We got to be on these guys [Pfizer] like a blanket. I'd be outside that guy's house. Every time he moved I'd be saying where's our vaccines? Other people are getting them, the European Union's getting them, why not Canada? That's my question to Pfizer. We need your support," Ford said during the press conference.
Pfizer said many countries will be affected by the delay but did not say which ones. Europe's shipments are expected to be cut back this week but its dose deliveries are set to return to normal next week.
Ahead of inauguration day tomorrow in the U.S., Ford went on to ask President-elect Joe Biden for help securing more vaccines from a Pfizer plant in Michigan.
"I can't help but ask the president, we're the third largest trading partner in the world, Ontario just alone... The least thing you could do in Kalamazoo where the Pfizer plant is- great relationship building- give us a million vaccines. You have 100 million down there, give your great neighbour that stand shoulder-to-shouler with you a million vaccines to keep us going," Ford said.
In the first two weeks of February, provincial health officials said they are expecting a 55 per cent cut and 45 per cent cut in doses during the weeks of Feb. 1 and Feb.8, respectively.
The government said the allocation of doses remains the same with the priority to inoculate long-term care and high-risk retirement homes and northern, fly-in First Nation communities first.
Health officials added that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be reallocated during this delay to more areas to reserve Pfizer for sites that need to provide second doses.
Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines are the only shots that have been approved by Health Canada so far. Two doses of the same vaccine are required for full immunization.
Last week, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams updated the guidance on the interval between the two doses.
Those who received the Pfizer vaccine inside long-term care and high-risk retirement homes will receive the second dose in 21 to 27 days. Meanwhile, all other people who have received the first dose will now receive their second dose between 21 and 42 days later. This approach aligns with guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the World Health Organization.
People who received the Moderna vaccine will receive their second dose after 28 days.
As a result of the Pfizer delay, a pilot COVID-19 vaccination clinic that opened up on Monday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will have to pause vaccinations on Friday.
The proof-of-concept clinic is supposed to serve as a guideline for how shots should be administered in non-medical settings starting this spring.
The site had been expected to run for at least six weeks with an initial target of 250 doses per day.
Today provincial health officials said the clinic will resume vaccinations once more doses arrive possibly by mid- February or March.
First round of vaccinations complete at LTC homes in hot spots
Provincial health officials also announced today that the first round of vaccinations has been completed at all long-term care homes in the hot spots of Toronto, Peel Region, York Region and Windsor-Essex ahead of the Jan. 21 target.
All long-term care homes in Ottawa, Durham Region and Simcoe Muskoka have also received the first dose.
Last week, the government said that they hope to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all residents and staff in all long-term care homes across the province by Feb. 15.
Health officials said the vaccine shortage will not affect this target.
The government also said there have been very few reports of serious events related to the vaccine, and that most have been because patients were allergic.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Chief Coroner said it is investigating after a resident of a Windsor retirement home died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. It is unknown if there is any link between the death and the vaccine.
More than 224,000 doses administered
As of 8 p.m. on Monday, more than 224,000 doses of vaccines have been administered across the province since the first doses were administered in mid-December.
According to public health officials, more than 83,000 of those doses were administered to long-term care home residents and staff, over 25,000 to retirement home residents and staff and more than 99,000 to health-care workers in other sectors.
To date, more than 25,000 Ontarians have been fully vaccinated after receiving both doses of the vaccine.
-With files from The Canadian Press