Health Canada is modifying the labelling of the joint Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE vaccine to allow six doses to be extracted from each vial rather than five.
The change requires the use of specialized syringes known as low-dead volume syringes to ensure the additional doses can be adequately extracted.
The syringes have already arrived in Canada in “sufficient quantities,” according to Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
“What we are doing is ensuring we have the right equipment, the right training at all levels so that we can provide the maximum amount of doses out of every vial,” he said during a Tuesday media briefing.
The change in labelling means Canada is set to receive 400,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week rather than the previously allocated 336,375 doses; and 475,000 doses for the last week of February rather than 395,850.
The number of vials coming from Pfizer has not changed.
Federal officials did not directly answer multiple questions from reporters regarding whether, as part of its contract, Pfizer would count each vial as containing six doses regardless of whether those administering the vaccines were able to successfully extract six doses with the new syringes.
Online training for the modified extraction method begins Wednesday.
The changes come amid ongoing vaccine delay shipments as Pfizer revamps its production facilities in Belgium to expand its manufacturing capacity.
No Pfizer shipments arrived in the country in the last week of January, and Canada is only receiving 82% of the previously expected deliveries for the weeks of February 1 and February 8.
Fortin said he is still working with Moderna Inc. (NYSE:MRNA) to confirm the number of doses set to be delivered the week of February 22 following delays the preceding three weeks.