MONTREAL – Quebec’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines could suffer if the province continues to follow a schedule that is not recommended by its manufacturer, provincial leaders suggested Monday.
On Monday, Premier François Legault said Ottawa was discussing with the provincial government the extent to which it will have to comply with the two-dose schedule set by Pfizer for the company’s vaccine.
This schedule requires a second dose of the vaccine to be administered three weeks after the first dose. The Quebec government’s plan calls for a modified schedule, with people receiving their second dose months after the first.
The government claimed the changed schedule was part of an effort to vaccinate as many people as possible and that the first dose granted a fair level of immunity, a claim that was disputed by Pfizer.
“What the federal government told us … is whether there is a real risk that a company like Pfizer will stop delivering doses because we are not following the guidelines. [interval] between the two doses, ”said Legault.
“There, of course, we would comply, if that led to stopping the purchase of the second dose,” he said.
“But if we have the choice, and we want the Government of Quebec to make this choice, we prefer to vaccinate more people [with a first-dose-priority system]. »
A spokesperson for Pfizer said the company “cannot confirm that such consequences were implied”, but that “Pfizer has continued to encourage public health authorities across Canada to follow permitted dosing intervals. by Health Canada ”.
A spokesperson for Health Canada said that an analysis of the pros or cons of a modified schedule is underway, but that it is currently recommended “that Canadians receive two doses of the same vaccine, as closely as possible. of the authorized dosage schedule for each vaccine ”.
The number of vaccine doses available to Quebecers will increase significantly during the first week of February, according to federal data.
As of Jan. 7, the province had received 115,375 doses of the vaccine, of which 82,875 were the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 32,500 were manufactured by Moderna. During the week of January 11-17, the province will receive an additional 46,800 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 34,000 doses of Moderna.
The same amount of Pfizer-BioNTech is expected to arrive in Quebec every week until the end of the month. No data is available on how much, if any, Moderna vaccine will arrive in the province during this period.
During the first week of February, the number of doses of Pfizer-BioNTech will increase to 82,875 per week, for each week of the month. The province will also receive 47,400 doses of Moderna in the first week of February and an additional 51,800 doses last week.
As of Friday, 13,971 doses were administered, but that number decreased over the following days. On Sunday, 8,400 vaccines were administered.
Health Minister Christian Dube on Monday attributed the drop to a lack of supply, saying this week, for example, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine delivery schedule would arrive Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while Moderna delivered on Wednesday and Thursday.
Legault said Quebec has fully increased its vaccination capacity, which means it is able to distribute any vaccine it receives almost instantly – and the statistics back it up.
“You saw the numbers,” said Legault. “We administered 80% of the vaccines we received, the doses we received. We are the province that has so far [given out] the [greatest] percentage of what we received. ”
According to the Quebec Ministry of Health, 92,452 vaccinations, or 80% of the doses received so far, have been administered in the province since December 14.
Just a week ago, Quebec was in fourth place among the major provinces after Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, distributing only 37%. 100 of the doses he had. This proportion has now more than doubled.
Dube said 21,478 residents of CHSLDs in the province, or 53.7%, received a vaccine.
According to the 2016 census, Quebec has 8,164,361 inhabitants.
–With files from CTV’s Selena Ross