Innovation, Science, and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on Tuesday that the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, which is set to be produced in Montreal, will not be on the market until the end of 2021.
The comments contradict promises made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had previously suggested that the Novavax vaccine would be available on the market by the end of the summer.
The timeline also calls into question whether domestic production will even be required, as the prime minister had already stated that there will be enough vaccines available for all Canadians by September.
"Our initial plan on vaccines was to sign as many different contracts with as many different producers, potential producers of vaccines, as possible," Trudeau said previously. "We're able to confidently say that not only will we get three millions vaccinated by the end of March, we'll have everyone who needs to be vaccinated by September."
It is unclear if this timeline worked under the assumption that there would be sufficient domestic vaccine production.
The Trudeau government has been widely criticized for its handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout. After the Pfizer vaccine hit the market, Canada was among the top nations in the world in terms of vaccine distribution, but has quickly fallen behind other less developed countries such as Serbia, Greece, and Romania.
Pressure continued to mount after Pfizer admitted to be having manufacturing issues, leading to a reduction in vaccine exports from the Belgian plant in which they are manufactured. Some countries, as well as the European Union, have considered limiting or outright banning the export of vaccines in order to support domestic distribution.
Less than three percent of the Canadian population has been vaccinated so far, with the territories leading the country in vaccinations per capita as the government focusses first on vaccinating isolated communities with limited healthcare resources. However, less than one percent of the population has received the second dose of the vaccine.
Over 785,000 Canadians have contracted coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and over 20,000 have died as a result.