Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines and secured agreements with all four vaccine makers for shipments.
As well, the prime minister said Pfizer has updated its shipment schedule for Canada, meaning 3.5 million doses originally set to arrive in the summer will be arriving over the spring.
This means by the end of March, Canada will have eight million doses available of several vaccine types.
Canada will also receive one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in April and another one million doses in May.
Trudeau also touched on the approval of the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, although that vaccine isn't expected to ship before April. Canada has secured 38 million doses of the vaccine through previous negotiations.
He said the country will receive 10 million doses of the single-dose vaccine, which is produced by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Janssen Inc., between April and June, with an option to purchase the 28 million other doses previously arranged.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said with four vaccines approved and deals secured to purchase doses of those vaccines, the country will receive 36.5 million doses by the end of June and 117.9 milllion doses by the end of September.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said with vaccine rates climbing there is "growing optimism that Canada can achieve significant protection (against COVID-19) across the population in the weeks and months ahead."
She said variants of concern (VOC) mean the public and officials have to remain vigilant as the situation on the ground could change rapidly, but the ability to screen for these VOC is improving.
In terms of vaccinations, so far 2.1 million doses of vaccine have been administered, with more than 397,000 doses administered this past week alone.
In terms of delaying the second dose of the two-dose vaccines by up to four months, Tam the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations has recommended that delaying a second dose is not only safe and effective, but will also allow more people to be immunized faster.
She said the committee based its decision both on clinical trials and on real-world evidence both in Canada and globally that shows delaying the second dose still provides a high level of protection.