'I'm not aware of where she got her numbers': Federal government casts doubt on Ontario's COVID-19 vaccine rollout
TORONTO -- Hours after Ontario’s health minister announced that the province expects to receive more than two million COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months, the federal government says it’s unsure where those numbers came from.
Liberal MP and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Darren Fisher, exposed the apparent disconnect between the feds and the provincial government during an interview with Evan Solomon on CTV’s Power Play Wednesday.
“I’m not aware of where she got her numbers,” he said. “I am not sure what provinces have for possible numbers that might come forward depending on which contract yields a successful and approved-by-Health Canada vaccine.”
News of Christine Elliott’s announcement made its way to question period in Ottawa with MPs pressing Health Minister Patty Hajdu for confirmation on the specifics of the rollout, which she could not do.
“In terms of distribution, we will work out with provinces and territories as we have with other things like personal protective equipment, rapid tests, a ratio or sharing approach that will work to ensure that all Canadians have access to viable and safe vaccines,” she said.
According to Elliott, the Ontario government is expecting to receive some 1.6 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 800,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine between January and March of 2021.
The Government of Canada has already signed deals with Pfizer for a minimum of 20 million doses of its vaccine candidate and 56 million doses from Moderna, neither of which have been approved by Health Canada.
On Wednesday, Pfizer said Phase 3 of its trial vaccine was found to be 95 per cent effective with officials saying they plan to seek emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the coming days.
Similarly, Moderna has said preliminary analysis suggests their vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective and is also nearing the point at which it can be submitted to the USFDA for emergency use authorization.
Recipients of either vaccine will be required to take two doses 21 days apart, so it’s likely that the initial shipments will only be enough to protect about 1.2 million Ontarians.
In a statement to CTV News Toronto, a spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Health said Elliott's comments were based on "early conversations with the federal government and using a per capita model."
"While a vaccine is still months away, there is light at the end of the tunnel," the spokesperson said in an email.
With files from CP24’s Chris Fox.