Pfizer pausing its production lines, to temporarily reduce vaccine deliveries to Canada, minister says
#Ottawa; #Pfizer; #TemporaryReductionOfDosesToCanada; #AnitaAnand; #DanyFortin
Ottawa/Canadian-Media: Temporary reduction of shipments of its vaccine to Canada by Pfizer the global pharmaceutical giant, would further complicate the slow rollout of doses, said Anita Anand Public Services and Procurement Minister today in a public health briefing.
Pfizer vaccine. Image credit: Unsplash
Anand said she learnt last night that is due to Pfizer's pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity.
"This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccines manufactured at its European facility, and that includes Canada," Anand told reporters at a public health briefing.
"Pfizer believes that by the end of March it will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track for the total committed doses for Q1," she added, referring to the first quarter of the calendar year.
Anand stressed that this is a "temporary reduction" and not a "stoppage," and added,
"It's going to be temporary, it's not a loss, and we will make up those doses," she said, adding deliveries will be disrupted for "two or three weeks."
Canada's allotment will be reduced by 50 percent for four weeks as 400,000 doses have been pushed to a later date, and that Canada will experience the "most profound impact" during the week of Jan. 25, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics, said.
He said the shipment next week of roughly 208,000 doses will proceed as planned.
"As numbers increase, Pfizer indicated that they intend to offset the impact of their production dip," he said. "It will hurt in the short-term but ... the manufacturer is committed to the doses it has promised us."
The delay will allow the company to significantly scale up its manufacturing operations, a spokesperson for Pfizer Canada said, by producing up to 2 billion vaccine doses this year, — up from the previous target of 1.3 billion.
"As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility. Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January and February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March," the spokesperson said.
Anand said the federal government still expects to receive roughly four million doses of the Pfizer product in the first three months of this year. Moderna is expected to deliver another two million doses of its vaccine.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured Canadians in his news conference today that the government's long-term goal of getting everyone who wants a shot vaccinated by the end of September would not be derailed by this delay.
"This kind of issue is out of our hands and that's why we pursued an aggressive procurement strategy in the first place," Trudeau said, adding Canada is not entirely dependent on Pfizer for shots.
Regulators at Health Canada are currently reviewing other promising vaccine candidates, such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen.