Procurement Minister Filomena Tassi and Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos were front and centre today announcing that Canada has secured a commitment for a million doses of the new Pfizer anti-COVID drug Paxlovid. Minister Tassi further said that Canada has an option for another half million doses. A dose is defined as 15 pills—three of which are taken each day for five days. Reporters attempted to find out how much the drug is costing, but Tassi said that was proprietary commercial information and revealing costs could jeopardize the deal. When Pfizer first unveiled the treatment in November, it said Paxlovid was found to reduce the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% compared to placebo in non-hospitalized high-risk adults with COVID-19.
While Canada is in line for a million doses, the initial supply will be relatively small. Enough product to treat 30,000 patients is already in Canada and Ontario will get about 10,000 of those doses. Tassi reported there will be about 120,000 doses arriving by the end of March.
Health Minister Duclos said the drug would go to the most at-risk people. Reporters were quick to point out that those most at-risk are people who have not been vaccinated. Duclos was asked if the new treatment might be giving those who are vaccine-hesitant another excuse not to get the shot.