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Canada's top doctor says talks underway to obtain more vaccine to fight monkeypox

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Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Canada's top doctor says negotiations are underway for more vaccines to curtail monkeypox as confirmed cases reached 278 nationwide. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Canada's top doctor says negotiations are underway for more vaccine to curtail monkeypox as confirmed cases reached 278 nationwide.

Chief public health officer Theresa Tam says there are "continuing discussions and contract negotiations" to obtain doses from Bavarian Nordic, the Danish manufacturer of a smallpox vaccine approved for use against monkeypox.

She says current doses are coming from Canada's National Emergency Strategic Stockpile for targeted use in high-risk areas.

That includes Quebec, where Tam says more than 7,000 people have received shots, and Ontario, where she estimates about 5,000 people have been vaccinated.

She says provinces have the supply they need for now, but that federal officials are keeping close tabs as regions draw down supply.

Tam says that as of June 29, there were 202 confirmed cases of monkeypox reported from Quebec, 67 from Ontario, five from Alberta, and four from British Columbia.

The majority of cases are males between the ages of 20 and 69 years, and the majority reported intimate sexual contact with other men, although the risk of monkeypox is not exclusive to any group or setting.

Tam stressed that anyone, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, could get infected if they are in close contact with someone who has monkeypox, or if they come in contact with personal objects belonging to someone infected, including towels or bed linens.

Bavarian Nordic said earlier this month that the Public Health Agency of Canada had agreed to a US$56 million, five-year contract to purchase their Imvamune vaccine.

Deliveries were expected to begin in 2023.

Tam would not comment on how much remains in Canada's stockpile, but said provinces now carrying out vaccinations "have what they need."

"We've been having very close bilateral discussions with provinces in terms of the supply as they begin to draw down on the supply allocated to their particular jurisdiction," Tam said Thursday.

"Of course, there is continuing discussions and contract negotiations with Bavarian Nordic, the manufacturer, to access more."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press