Despite news that Canada won't be getting doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India this month, federal officials say they expect Canada's COVID-19 vaccine supply to ramp up in the coming weeks as the first Johnson & Johnson doses arrive and Moderna scales up production.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's national vaccine distribution effort, said Canada will receive its initial shipment of 300,000 Johnson & Johnson doses next week and they'll be distributed to the provinces the following week.
"While weekly fluctuations of shipments may happen, overall the quantity of vaccines we can expect from manufacturers continues to grow," Fortin told reporters today.
The subsequent shipment of Johnson & Johnson is expected in June; no firm delivery date has been set yet.
Fortin confirmed last week's news that shipments of Moderna set for next week would be cut from an anticipated 1.2 million doses to 650,000, but insisted that shipments of that vaccine would accelerate "in short order."
"We have yet to know the details on Moderna for May, although they're working on scaling up so the adjustment was quite severe last week," Fortin said. "They're working on scaling up and I think we will have very positive news in short order for Moderna."
Canada has received 2,856,580 doses of the Moderna vaccine to date.
Dramatically rising case counts in India have prompted that country to impose export restrictions, delaying delivery of the one million doses of AstraZeneca Canada was expecting to receive by the end of this month.
"We will not see doses this month as the situation in India continues to be the way it is," said Fortin.
Canada has an agreement with the Serum Institute of India to receive two million doses of a vaccine that is biologically identical to the AstraZeneca vaccine but manufactured under different conditions under the name Covishield.
Watch: Many more vaccine doses coming in next two weeks: Fortin:
Public Services and Procurement Canada's Joelle Paquette said that while those doses will not come this month, her department expects India to meet that commitment and is "tracking" deliveries to arrive by "the end of June."
"We are continuing to work with the Serum Institute on the delivery of its vaccine to Canada," she said.
AstraZeneca delivery dates unconfirmed
Paquette noted, however, that while she hopes that doses will arrive in June, the situation on the ground in India, and that country's export ban, could still affect those delivery dates.
She also said the federal government is waiting to hear from COVAX about when Canada will get its next shipment of AstraZeneca from that source.
COVAX is a global vaccine-sharing initiative jointly coordinated by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.
Watch: Fortin on AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccine shipment delays:
The program pools funds from wealthier countries to buy vaccines for those countries and ensure low- and middle-income countries have access to vaccines as well.
Canada is slated to receive 1.9 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the program by the end of June. Canada has so far received 316,800 doses from COVAX.
As for the agreement Canada has with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses directly, Paquette said "we're looking at the next shipment in June, and working with the company at the moment on solidifying that particular delivery schedule."