Health Canada has approved a request from Pfizer that would allow an additional dose of their COVID-19 vaccine to be extracted from each vial.
Previously, each vial of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine provided five doses, but Canada’s federal health agency has greenlit six doses. The pharmaceutical company can now ship fewer vials to Canada and still reach the deal to supply the country with a total of 40 million vaccines.
During an announcement on Tuesday morning, Health Canada said that six doses of the vaccine could safely and accurately be extracted from each vial.
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“With the change in product monograph, we expect to receive and distribute approximately 400,000 doses next week and 475,000 doses in the last week of February,” said Major General Dany Fortin.
Health officials complained saying it was not always possible to extract an extra dose without using a specialized syringe known as a low-dead volume syringe.
Fortin says there are enough low-dead volume syringes to meet the federal need for vaccines for the next several weeks and says more will arrive in May.
The government says the new six-dose vial will go into effect immediately.
“While there is a change in doses contained in each vial, the country’s overall allotment from the manufacturer will remain the same,” said Fortin.
Canada has also purchased 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, meaning the country is expected to get 80 million COVID-19 doses by the end of 2021.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is on track despite “temporary issues” with shipment delays from Moderna and Pfizer. “The temporary shipment delays are a hurdle but one we’re ready for,” said Trudeau. He added that despite “short-term temporary issues, [the] plan is the solid one.”
Trudeau says that all Canadians who are willing to get the coronavirus vaccine will be able to be vaccinated by September.