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Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said at a press conference on Thursday that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has determined that the time between the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines could be extended, up to 42 days.
“There is currently a limited supply of these vaccines in Canada,” Dr. Njoo said. “While NACI continues to recommend that a complete vaccine series be offered according to authorized schedules, NACI acknowledges that provincial and territorial governments will have to determine the best way to manage supply in their respective jurisdiction.”
“NACI’s analysis indicates that in exceptional circumstances, jurisdictions may consider an extended interval between doses, based on current and projected epidemiological status, healthcare system capacity, and vaccine delivery and management logistics, preferably within 42 days.”
Dr. Njoo added that the efficacy of the vaccine should be the same up to 42 days but there isn’t any data about the efficacy of vaccines after that point. According to the authorization by Health Canada, the second Pfizer-BioNTech shot should be administered at 21 days and the the second dose of the Moderna vaccine should be administered at 28 days.
“If provincial or territorial vaccination programs make the decision to...go beyond 42 days, I think it would be very important...to actually collect data, to actually monitor the populations to see what the overall effectiveness is of the vaccine, in the vaccinated population,” Dr. Njoo said.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada and head of Canada’s vaccine distribution efforts, said more than 380,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to provinces and territories this week.
A total of 208,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Canada, and 171,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
Canada expects to receive the same amount of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine each week for the rest of January. In the first week of February 230,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to arrive.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said that as Canada enters phase two of the vaccine distribution plan, also known as the “ramp of phase,” an average of more than one million doses a week should start arriving in April.
He did say that Canada has a “scarcity of vaccines in the first quarter” but still expects the country to receive six million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.