Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

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OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up to $5 billion on vaccines and other COVID-19 treatments.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand previously said vaccines alone would cost at least $1 billion but the specific contract costs are protected by confidentiality clauses with drug makers.

Federal budget documents show $5.3 billion was approved in December for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including the purchase of doses, research and development.

Last month $5 billion of that was shifted from the current fiscal year into 2021-22 because most of the vaccine doses Canada is buying aren't being delivered until after March 31, which is when the federal fiscal year ends.

Canada is guaranteed to buy more than 240 million doses of seven different vaccines if all are approved, with only 6.5 million doses expected before the end of March.

The Public Health Agency has not said specifically how much of the $5 billion is going to vaccines versus other COVID-19 medications.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press