Province expects temporary reduction in Pfizer vaccine deliveries

Photo courtesy NIAID/Flickr.

Moe says delay highlights need to approve additional vaccine candidates

The provincial government expects to see a temporary reduction in Pfizer vaccine deliveries while the company works to expand its European manufacturing facility.

Pfizer will temporarily reduce vaccine deliveries by up to 50 per cent to all countries, including Canada, over the next few weeks. The province said on Saturday that healthcare workers will continue to administer the vaccine as received according to priority sequence.

Premier Scott Moe took said the Pfizer delay shows Canada needs to quickly review and approve additional vaccine candidates, like the AstraZeneca vaccine. Canada signed an agreement with the company in September for 20 million doses.

“Saskatchewan has been able to increase our pace of vaccinations in recent days, but our planning is based on the federal government providing a reliable weekly supply of vaccines,” Moe wrote. “The federal government has advised Saskatchewan to expect 11,700 Pfizer doses a week throughout the month of February and we have been planning our vaccine rollout based on this schedule, including second dosages. If this has changed, they really need to advise us immediately.”

Moe added that provincial health minister Paul Merriman would raise the matter on a call with federal and provincial ministers. That call took place Friday morning.

The United Kingdom was the first country to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in cooperation with Oxford University. UK health officials began administering it on Jan. 4. Since then, Switzerland, Pakistan and India have all approved the vaccine for use.

Federal health minister Patty Hajdu told reporters on Friday they expect to make a decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine in the “near future.”

Shipments of the Moderna vaccine have also been delayed, although poor weather conditions are the culprit. The province received 4,900 doses from Moderna on Friday, but bad weather kept the province from flying shipments to the Far North East until Saturday morning.

Clinics in the region are expected to begin administering the vaccine on Saturday, and continue throughout the weekend. The rest of the Moderna doses were sent to the Central East and South East zones.

Healthcare workers administered 2,857 vaccine doses on Friday, including 857 in Prince Albert. That was the second highest total administered in any part of the province. Saskatoon led the way with 893 doses administered.

The Far North West reported 129 doses administered on Friday, and the North East reported 426. Far North Central reported 53 vaccine doses administered on Thursday, which were not previously reported.

A total of 16,927 doses have been administered across the province.