Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Canada’s procurement minister says she is in the midst of negotiating new vaccine contracts to nail down supplies of vaccine booster shots if they’re needed next year.

“We are actively planning for 2022,” Anita Anand said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

She said Canada’s first priority remains getting doses now, and while the country remains well behind the United States, United Kingdom and several other countries, its vaccination pace has picked up significantly in the last month.

Canada expects to get every adult vaccinated fully — with both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines or one shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson — by the end of September at the latest.

Teenagers likely will be vaccinated by then as well, but vaccines for kids under 12 aren’t expected to be authorized until at least the fall.

Still, many experts believe additional booster shots are going to be necessary, either to remind the immune system what it needs to do, or protect against some new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants, including Pfizer and Moderna.

Health Canada has initiated a plan to authorize boosters without the same extensive testing required to approve the original vaccines, similar to how flu shots are authorized each year after being adjusted for the new strain of flu virus believed to be dominant.

Canada has already purchased 117.6 million doses of the four vaccines authorized, which could fully vaccinate all Canadians once, and about half the population twice.

Another 124 million doses would be available if Canada approves vaccines from Novavax, Medicago or Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline.

And there are options for up to 180 million additional doses, though some of those have already expired.

Anand said getting booster shots isn’t as simple as just extending existing contracts.

“In some cases, we are amending contracts, in other cases, we are negotiating additional contracts,” she said. “So it is very intense at the current time in terms of planning for the 2022 buy. But the key is to make sure we have the flexibility in place in our contracts to ensure that we can have the doses needed for 2022 and beyond.”

She said Canada could also seek vaccines outside of the existing suppliers, if that is recommended by the national task force advising the government on what vaccines to go after.

Most of those talks will still require Canada to import vaccines made elsewhere. Medicago plans to make some doses in Canada, and Novavax is signed up to make up to two million doses a month at a National Research Council facility in Montreal, starting late this year or early in 2022.

VIDEO: ‘Extremely, extremely rare’ blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca, Health Canada says

Being 100 per cent reliant on imports has hurt Canada’s vaccine program thus far. All the suppliers have said Canada asked them to make doses domestically, but they didn’t think Canada had the facilities available to do it quickly enough.

After a very rocky winter, when deliveries slowed to almost nothing for a month in February and early March, data from the Our World in Data project shows Canada’s vaccination rate is now outpacing much of the world’s.

Comparisons to other countries are complicated by several factors, including which vaccines are being used, and the fact most vaccines require two doses but some countries, including Canada, chose to delay the second dose longer to get a first dose to more people sooner.

That’s why, for instance, the United Kingdom, which delayed second doses up to 12 weeks, has injected more doses per capita than the United States, but has fully vaccinated only one in 10 people, while the U.S. has fully vaccinated one in five.

In terms of overall vaccinations injected per capita, Canada lags down around 33rd in the world, and 6th out of the G7 nations. Only Japan, which only started vaccinating people in February, is behind.

A month ago Canada stood about 50th but its rate of vaccinations has doubled in four weeks, from 3.5 doses given for every 1.000 people to almost seven this week. Its rate of vaccinations is now ahead of every other G7 and G20 nation, except the United States.

Canada now stands 16th in the world for new vaccinations, and because it has delayed the second dose up to four months, Canada sits 14th globally for the proportion of people with any vaccination protection at all.

When it comes to people fully vaccinated, however, Canada is 38th.

Canada has now vaccinated more than one in five people with one dose, up from less than one in 10 four weeks ago.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Five-year-old Bayne Krause poses for a photo with his mom Marianne. Bayne’s shirt reads, ‘I have Cystic Fibrosis. Help keep me healthy, please social distance.’ Photo: Laurie Tritschler
West Kootenay mom promotes awareness of cystic fibrosis

Marianne Krause wants people to know what it’s like for her five-year-old son to live with CF

The higher elevation melt is getting underway as rivers such as Mark Creek in Kimberley are running faster. Paul Rodgers file
Snow packs down just below normal in East and West Kootenay

The West Kootenay in particular had below normal precipitation in April

Police are cautioning drivers to keep a sharp eye on the road after a Fruitvale man hit and killed an elk along Highway 2A near Trail. The driver was reported to be uninjured, though the car was significantly damaged. Photo: Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Heads up for wildlife warn police after crash with elk on West Kootenay highway

The accident happened in the early morning hours of April 30

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

Interfor’s Castlegar mill is getting $35 million in upgrades. Photo by: John Boivin
Interfor to invest $35 million at Castlegar mill

Project will enhance productivity and competitiveness

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Most Read