Ontario Premier Doug Ford didn’t mince any words when learning of the delays in the Pfizer vaccine to Canada.
“Pfizer has let us down tremendously. It’s unacceptable,” said Ford during a press conference on Thursday.
Ford is furious after hearing Pfizer wants to cut Canada’s first-quarter vaccine shipments from 4 million to 3.5 million.
The dispute is over how many doses are in each vial.
Health Canada has approved five doses per vial, but health care workers are squeezing out six shots. Now, Pfizer wants to count that extra dose, reducing the number of vials it needs to ship to honour its contract.
Federal officials say they are confident that one way or another, Pfizer will deliver.
Major-General Dany Fortin, Vice President Logistics and Operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said the company will fulfill its contract.
“Pfizer has assured us that Canada will receive four million doses,” said Maj Gen Fortin.
In a statement, B.C.’s Ministry of Health said the province will receive fewer doses but will still receive a significant amount of the Pfizer vaccine starting in the middle of February. The issue right now, is relying on European manufacturers.
But other options might be available soon as a number of Canadian companies race to develop vaccines.
One of those companies is Burnaby-based Symvivo, which is in Phase One of testing, says the company’s founder and CEO Alexander Graves.
“We are currently conducting a Phase One clinical trial,” said Graves, confirming the company is working hard to deliver a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
Symvivo says it is developing a room temperature stable, oral vaccine but it’s still a year away from approval.
“We would have an opportunity to not just provide vaccines for Canadians, but export it across the world in a way that is not feasible today,” Graves said.
Even if the trials go well and it’s approved, it will still be a while until that plan will be put into action.
Canada should get the approved doses it was banking on by the end of March but the next few weeks will be rough, say health officials. Pfizer deliveries won’t be ramped up until the middle of next month.
Fortin said Canada can expect a total of six million deliveries from Pfizer in the first quarter of 2021, 20 million in the second, and more than 40 million in the third quarter.