Canada to start receiving U.S. shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week

·2 min read
Canada is expected to start receiving Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shipments from the U.S., which is relaxing restrictions on vaccine shipments across the border, allowing the products produced in Kalamazoo, Mich., to enter Canada.  (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Canada is expected to start receiving Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shipments from the U.S., which is relaxing restrictions on vaccine shipments across the border, allowing the products produced in Kalamazoo, Mich., to enter Canada. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Canada will soon be getting doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines from a supplier much closer to home.

The United States is relaxing restrictions on vaccine shipments across the border, allowing the products produced in Kalamazoo, Mich., to enter Canada.

This will mark the first time Pfizer's product is allowed out of the U.S., signalling an end to tight American restrictions that had forced Canada to import all its vaccines from overseas.

Officials in both countries and the company itself have confirmed the news.

"I can confirm that as of May 3rd, the Canadian supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will come from its manufacturing site in Kalamazoo, Mich.," Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand told reporters on Friday.

WATCH | Procurement minister on upcoming Pfizer shipment:

Another Canadian official who requested anonymity said the development will not affect the pace of deliveries to Canada. He said Pfizer is simply fulfilling orders it already has from Canada — it's now allowed to send them from Michigan, instead of Europe.

A U.S. official also confirmed the news. Andy Slavitt, a White House adviser on COVID-19, tweeted a report from Reuters and said U.S.-made vaccines will be heading to Canada and Mexico.

He made clear that the restructure originally imposed by the Trump administration was about to end.

"Last administration's export restrictions: gone," Slavitt tweeted.

"[America is] back.

The Biden administration had kept those restrictions in place as the country ramped up its own domestic vaccine production.

To date, the only vaccines the U.S. has allowed to be shipped to Canada and Mexico have been four million doses of an AstraZeneca-Oxford product that is being produced in the U.S. but not yet approved for use there.

However, the country is now awash in supply. In fact, it's the demand that is starting to peter out in a number of states.

WATCH | Biden's chief medical adviser discusses Canada's 3rd wave:

There's now a growing gap in desire for vaccines between different parts of the U.S. and that disparity is accelerating.

About a dozen states, primarily Democratic-voting states in the northeast with larger urban centres, have delivered at least one dose to between 60 and 73 per cent of adults, according to U.S. federal data.

Another dozen states, primarily Republican-voting states with smaller population centres in the south and west, have only delivered a first shot to between 40 and 50 per cent of their adult population.

The growing supply, coupled with slowing demand, has made it easier for the U.S. to release its previous stranglehold on domestic production.