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

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

A class is in isolation after a potential exposure at J.V. Humphries School in Kaslo. Photo: School District 8
Kaslo school’s class isolated due to possible COVID-19 exposure

A class at J.V. Humphries School is home for the week

Village council saw an application to build a seven foot fence around a 3rd Ave. property in Nakusp. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)
Village of Nakusp sees application for seven foot fence

Council raised concerns about curb appeal

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Kimberley's Steve Tersmette has published Waterfall Hikes In Southern British Columbia, documenting 100 of the areas waterfalls.
Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read