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Canada to receive 6.5 million COVID-19 vaccines by end of March

Canada expects to receive more than 6.5 million COVID-19 vaccines by the end of March, with tens of millions more vaccines arriving between April and June, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Canada has secured access to nearly 400 million doses of vaccines, but manufacturers have been slow to ship the authorized medicine. Just 2.8% of the country’s approximately 38 million people have received at least one dose compared to more than 14% of people in the United States.

In a press briefing Friday, Trudeau repeated his expectation that every Canadian who wants a vaccine will receive one by September.

Earlier Friday, Health Canada announced it had authorized AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in addition to the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines already available.

Trudeau told reporters Canada had secured an additional two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Verity Pharmaceuticals and the Serum Institute of India. The first shipment of 500,000 vaccines is expected to arrive within weeks.

This shipment would expand on the 20 million doses the country has already secured from AstraZeneca, Trudeau said.

Canada also received 643,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week, Trudeau said.

Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna had significantly slowed deliveries to Canada after a combination of manufacturing delays and demands from Europe, where Canada procures its doses.

Since vaccinations began in late December, more than 1.7 million vaccine doses have been administered out of more than 2.4 million doses distributed across the country, according to Health Canada.

New variants spreading

Canada has reported 858,217 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, who briefed reporters on Friday.

There have been 21,865 deaths from COVID-19, she said.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 97,120 completed COVID-19 tests daily with a 3.2% positivity rate and a daily average of 2,960 new cases of COVID-19 and 52 deaths, Tam said.

Over the past week, there were 2,269 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals and 564 patients receiving critical care, Tam added.

As of Friday, 964 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, 44 cases of the B.1.351 variant and two cases of the P.1 variant had been reported in Canada, Tam said.

Tam warned that as new, more transmissible variants spread, “controlling the epidemic will be much more difficult.”

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