Confusion is mounting over possible delays to upcoming AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford’s office released a statement Monday which said that, in addition to previously announced delays with Moderna doses, the premier was notified “by our officials to be prepared for delays to two shipments of AstraZeneca expected from the federal government later this month and next.”
A provincial official later added that Ontario had been expecting to receive around 389,000 doses this week and 194,500 during the week of May 3, but both deliveries may be delayed until the end of May.
The federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine allocation forecast doesn’t show figures for upcoming AstraZeneca shipments, however, and a federal official said future delivery schedules — other than one million doses that are expected sometime in June — have not been determined.
Canada is expecting to receive 4.1 million more AstraZeneca doses by the end of the second quarter, on top of 2.3 million received thus far.
The federal official added that it’s not believed there has been any new communication to provinces about the AstraZeneca vaccine and said Ontario may be referring to doses coming from the the Serum Institute.
Of the 4.1 million additional AstraZeneca doses Canada is expecting by the end of the second quarter, 1.5 million are anticipated to come from the Serum Institute which is experiencing export restrictions, the official said.
The facility is located in India, which is focusing on domestic vaccinations as COVID-19 cases there skyrocket.
The federal official added that this has been known for some time and has previously been communicated to the provinces.
When asked for clarification as to why Ontario was expecting the two AstraZeneca shipments later this month and next, and how the province got word of possible days, a spokesperson for Ford said, “We received this information from the federal government.”
The statement from Premier Ford’s office comes as the province announced it is expanding eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and older, effective Tuesday.
“As we look to expand our rollout of AstraZeneca to younger age groups and into more pharmacies, any delays to vaccine shipments would be devastating for Ontario right now as we battle the third wave of this pandemic,” the statement said.
“While we seek to confirm this information, the premier is redoubling his efforts to secure more vaccines by directly reaching out to our international allies for any available supply.”
On Sunday, the premier’s office announced that he was reaching out to consulates in a bid to get more vaccines from international allies — something that is normally the responsibility of the federal government.
“As part of that outreach, he has already spoken with Canada’s ambassador to Denmark and the Consulate General of the United States, both of whom are advancing our request to purchase any additional supply of AstraZeneca to their respective administrations,” the statement continued.
“Our officials have already reached out to Norway’s ambassador, and the premier will be speaking to the EU ambassador to Canada as well as the High Commissioner of India later today to ask for any extra AstraZeneca vaccines.”
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