Canada is well positioned to approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine soon – and it can be delivered to the country very soon after that, says a BioNTech manager.
“If I use the UK as an example, we got approval at 1am. We approved [the] released the vaccine and shipped it within 24 hours, says Sean Marett, CEO and Commercial Officer of Germany’s BioNTech, which partnered with US Pfizer to develop one of the world’s most promising vaccine candidates for COVID-19.
“Certainly from the discussions we have had, Canada is in a good position to approve the vaccine soon,” Marett told CBC Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday.
The Pfizer / BioNTech product – which was recently given the green light in the UK for emergency use – could be approved by Health Canada as soon as next week. Health Conditions is currently reviewing three other vaccines produced by Moderna, AstraZeneca and Jannsen.
“After approval, we then release the vaccine and then send it. We have already produced the vaccine and reserved doses for Canada,” Marett said at Rosemary Barton Live.
Regulatory approval is an important step before the finer details of the federal government’s launch plan can be launched.
“We are negotiating more precise delivery dates pending approval by Health Canada,” Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC’s Vassy Kapelos earlier this week. “That is why we are deploying logistics systems so that no time is lost between approval and then distribution to the provinces and territories.”
Launch the ‘biological equivalent of a lunar landing’
Marett called the distribution plan for the vaccine “biological equivalent of a lunar landing.”
“You have to get everything exactly right, and that of course includes times,” Marett said when asked about the exact delivery date. “These things tend to … move [for] a few days. But so far, from our experience of a country, the UK, we’ve seen things go pretty smoothly. “
On Friday, Anand announced an agreement with FedEx Express Canada to support the shipment of most vaccines across the country.
But the Pfizer / BioNTech candidate will be delivered by the pharmaceutical company directly because the product must be kept at about -70 ° C to remain stable. Ottawa says it has already secured enough freezers to store up to 33.5 million units of the vaccine.
Marett said the transportation and housing of products at temperatures below zero is a process that has been “well mapped.”
“Together with Pfizer, we have designed a storage box … where the vaccine comes from. You can use it as a freezer at -70. You can open the box twice a day and take out the vaccine as long as you freeze it again for up to 15 days. , ”He explained.
Distribution dry runs are expected in the provinces on Monday
Canada has signed an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to pre-order 20 million doses of the vaccine, with an option to purchase 56 million more in the coming months. Pfizer says the shots are 95 percent effective based on clinical phase 3 results.
Marett said his company was “completely stunned” by these results, given that the vaccine was developed in a few months as opposed to years.
“Efficiency of ninety-five percent, as defined by you get [COVID-19] symptoms or not … is in our opinion an astonishing result, he said.
Public health officials say that if all goes well, six million doses of Pfizer / BioNTech and Modern vaccines will arrive in Canada in the first three months of 2021. Both vaccines must be administered twice, which means that three million Canadians will be among the first to to get a jab.
Look at Canadian officials who practice vaccine distribution:
Major General Dany Fortin, the former NATO commander now in charge of vaccine logistics and operations for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said Friday that each province has now identified specific locations where shots will be received.
Fortin said dry runs are expected to be conducted in each province on Monday to ensure that those involved in the roll-out process are prepared to meet the “very unique requirements” for an extra-cold vaccine.