Canada is well-positioned to approve Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine soon — and it could be delivered to the country very quickly after that, a BioNTech executive says.
“If I use the U.K. as an example, we got approval at 1:00 am in the morning. We approved [the] release of the vaccine and shipped it within 24 hours,” said Sean Marett, the chief business and chief commercial officer of Germany’s BioNTech, which partnered with the U.S.-based Pfizer to develop one of the world’s most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates.
“Certainly from the discussions that we’ve had, Canada is in a good position to approve the vaccine shortly,” Marett told CBC Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday.
The Pfizer/BioNTech product — which was recently greenlit in the U.K. for emergency use — could receive approval from Health Canada as soon as this coming week. Health regulators are currently reviewing three other vaccines produced by Moderna, AstraZeneca and Jannsen.
“Upon approval, we then release the vaccine and then it is shipped. We’ve already produced the vaccine and reserved doses for Canada,” Marett said on Rosemary Barton Live.
Regulatory approval is a key step before the finer details of the federal government’s rollout plan can be set in motion.
“We are negotiating for more precise delivery dates pending Health Canada approval,” Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC’s Vassy Kapelos earlier this week. “It’s for that reason that we’re putting the logistics systems in place so that there is no time lost between approval and then distribution to the provinces and territories.”
Marett called the distribution plan for the vaccine the “biological equivalent of a moon landing.”
“You’ve got to get everything exactly right, and that, of course, includes timings,” Marett said, when asked about exact delivery dates. “These things tend to … move around [for] a few days. But so far, from our experience with one country, the United Kingdom, we’ve seen things move pretty smoothly.”