Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

The price Canada is paying for vaccines has been shrouded in mystery, as contracts are confidential

The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up to $5 billion on vaccines and other COVID-19 treatments.

Federal budget documents show $5.3 billion was approved in December for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including the purchase of doses, and research and development.

Last month, $5 billion of that was shifted from the current fiscal year into 2021-22.

The Public Health Agency of Canada told The Canadian Press this is to “ensure continuity of funding to match the timing for payments as vaccines are delivered.”

“As a very significant portion of COVID-19 vaccine deliveries and expenditures will take place in 2021-22, this reprofile is intended to transfer a portion of the Medical Research and Vaccine Development funding in the fiscal year in which its related expenditures will take place,” said the statement sent by a spokesman at the agency.

Only 6.5 million of the more than 240 million COVID-19 vaccine doses Canada is guaranteed to buy will be delivered before the end of March.

The price Canada is paying for vaccines has been shrouded in mystery, as contracts with suppliers are covered by confidentiality clauses that prohibit the federal government from saying how much it is spending on every dose.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said in September that Canada had allocated $1 billion for vaccines after signing deals with five companies for 154 million guaranteed doses, as well as options to add another 108 million after more was known about how the vaccines worked.

Another $220 million was allocated to buy up to 15 million doses from COVAX, the international vaccine-sharing program.

Soon after Canada added 20 million doses from Oxford-AstraZeneca and another 20 million from Medicago, which is the sole Canadian company in the mix. Neither were included in the original $1 billion.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Canada has also since doubled its order from Pfizer-BioNTech to 40 million doses, bumped its Moderna order from 20 million doses to 44 million, and purchased another two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India.

The first 500,000 of those doses from India arrived in Canada Wednesday morning. Canada has also received more than two million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech and about 630,000 doses from Moderna.

No other vaccines have been approved, though Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said she anticipates Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine will be authorized by the middle of March.

Anand said last week she hoped to provide an updated figure soon on how much Canada is spending on vaccines.

“We are continuing to make sure that we have the most accurate number possible before providing that to the Canadian public,” she said Feb. 26.

The federal public health agency has not said specifically how much of the $5 billion is going to vaccines versus other COVID-19 medications.

Some information on the cost per dose has been released or leaked in both the United States and Europe. The U.S. is believed to be paying, adjusted to Canadian dollars, $40 a dose for Moderna, $25 for Pfizer-BioNTech, $4 or $5 for Oxford-AstraZeneca, $12 for Johnson and Johnson and $20 for Novavax.

Europe’s prices, inadvertently leaked by a Belgian politician on Twitter, included, in Canadian dollars, $3 for Oxford-AstraZeneca, $13 for Johnson and Johnson, $18 for Pfizer, and $27 for Moderna.

Both the United States and Europe invested directly in the research and development of many of those vaccines, and it’s not clear how much that may affect their price per dose. Anand said Canada paid a “fair-market” price for all the vaccines it ordered.

READ MORE: Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Raising more than $1,300 for the KVHS’s dementia home project, Dennis and Brenda Horwood leave Kitimat with a bang and start their new retirement journey together. (Photo supplied)
KVHS thanks local Kitimat couple for their contributions to the dementia home project

Dennis and Brenda Horwood raise $1,360 during a retirement garage sale

No increase in fees will be made by the leisure services department in the summer months. Reviews will be made again in May/June for any recommended fee adjustments in the fall. (District of Kitimat photo)
District of Kitimat halt leisure fee increases until the fall

The Leisure Services Advisory Commission recommended no increase take place at this time

Mount Elizabeth Theatre have been approved for a provision of funding by city council for up to $42,000. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat’s multi-use theatre grant request approved for live streaming equipment

A funding commitment of up to $42,000 was granted from council to the Mount Elizabeth Theatre

Tracy Owen-Best with her husband, Larry Best. Tracy runs both the Nechako Barbershop and Hair Essentials Salon in Kitimat. Diagnosed with cancer in March 2020, she’s kept a positive mindset with the help from a supportive family. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Tracy Owen-Best

Barbershop owner and cancer fighter keeps it positive

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read