Canada on ‘solid footing’ in negotiations for more AstraZeneca vaccines from U.S.: Anand

OTTAWA – Procurement Secretary Anita Anand says she is in constant communication with her American counterparts about securing additional doses of AstraZeneca’s US-made COVID-19 vaccine after an initial 1.5 million loan.

In an interview with CTV’s Question Period broadcast on Sunday, Anand said the government was “on a solid footing” in the ongoing negotiations.

“We are continuously involved at all levels. Of course, Prime Minister and President Biden are in constant contact with Jeff Zients, and our Ambassador Kristen Hillman and her team are on an ongoing basis with the United States on this matter and the broader issue of the possible split of cans, ”said host Evan Solomon .

Canada has purchased 20 million AstraZeneca cans, which are expected to come from a US plant, but none have been shipped so far. Canada has a contract for two million doses from the Serum Institute in India, 500,000 of which have been sent to Canada, with the rest being delayed as India grapples with a devastating flood in new cases. Canada has also secured access to an additional 1.9 million from COVAX, a global vaccine exchange network primarily designed to support middle- to low-income countries. So far, 300,000 of these cans have arrived.

In late March, the Biden government granted early delivery of cans to Canada and Mexico under a loan agreement.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but regulatory agencies in Canada and Mexico have given it the go-ahead.

On Wednesday, after meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US President Joe Biden hinted that another shipment could be on its way to Canada.

“We’re looking at what will happen to some of the vaccines that we don’t use. We want to make sure they can be shipped safely and we hope we can help and be of value to countries around the world, “Biden said at a press conference.

“We talked to our neighbors. Actually a guy who works really hard … the Prime Minister of Canada. We helped a little. We will try to help even more. “

Reports have surfaced in the New York Times of chronic problems at a Baltimore facility operated by Emergent BioSolutions that made both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson cans.

Emergent announced earlier this month that 15 million doses of the latter had been ruined by cross-contamination – a development that prompted the White House to appoint J&J to lead the facility.

The Times also pointed to shortcomings in basic quality control at the Baltimore facility, including disinfection and contamination protocols, which did not meet industry standards despite a federal government injection of $ 163 million.

During CTV’s questioning period, Anand said she spoke to AstraZeneca when she heard the news and was reassured that Canada’s batch was unaffected.

“When we became aware of the problem with the facility, we immediately contacted our supplier and the supplier assured us that strict quality control had been in place and that none of the cans that Canada received were affected by the problems at the facility were “said she said.

While Canada’s AstraZeneca shipments face uncertainty, the Minister of Procurement has described Pfizer as the “workhorse” of the government’s vaccine portfolio.

“My standpoint from a procurement perspective is simply that 60 percent of our procurements currently come from a very reliable supplier: Pfizer,” she said, adding that given the expected spike in deliveries coming in May in June – two million a week at the former and 2.5 million a week in the latter – it would be “useful” for the provinces to consider expanding access to this vaccine.

“It makes sense to think about alternative additional means by which this vaccine can be given.”

With a file from Rachel Aiello & The Canadian Press of CTV News.

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