Pfizer and BioNTech will deliver the first doses of their COVID-19 vaccine to Canada this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday, with inoculations to start as early as next week.
"Canada has secured an agreement with Pfizer to begin early delivery of doses of their vaccine candidate," Trudeau told a news conference.
"We are now contracted to receive up to 249,000 of our initial doses of Pfizer BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine in the month of December," he said.
Pending Health Canada regulatory approval, expected this week, the prime minister said the first shipments to 14 sites across Canada could be delivered next week, with millions more doses to follow in 2021.
The federal government has contracted with several pharmaceutical companies — including AstraZeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech, Sanofi and GSK, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Medicago and Moderna — to secure more than 400 million vaccine doses for its population of 38 million.
The US giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech's vaccine is at the most advanced stage, having proved 95 percent effective in late-stage clinical trials and already secured approval in Britain where its world-first rollout is to begin Tuesday.
Ottawa in August signed a deal with Pfizer for 20 million doses plus options for millions more.
It poses some logistical challenges, however, including that it must be stored at extreme sub-zero temperatures and requires two doses given a week apart to be effective.
Major-General Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada's vaccine rollout, said it will take only one or two days after it arrives to "unpack, thaw, decant, mix" and inject it into the arms of Canadians.