Feds confirm $150 million loss from 'unfulfilled' COVID jab deal with Medicago

The feds signed advance purchase agreements with seven vaccine manufacturers before their jabs received approval from Health Canada. They have refused to disclose the amounts paid for the COVID jabs.

Feds confirm $150 million loss from 'unfulfilled' COVID jab deal with Medicago
Facebook/ Mark Holland
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Taxpayers lost a whopping $150 million to a failed COVID-19 jab manufacturer, confirmed the federal government.

Health Canada spokesperson Chris Aoun told the National Post Friday the government signed an "unfulfilled contract" with Québec-based Medicago at the onset of the COVID pandemic.

The feds sent the company a non-refundable advance payment of $150 million to reserve 76 million doses for consumption.

Medicago also received $173 million to fund COVID jab research and development, including expansion efforts at its manufacturing facility in Québec City.

"To secure early access to safe and effective vaccines for everyone eligible to be vaccinated in the county, the Government of Canada set up advance purchase agreements with several manufacturers," said Aoun, one of seven the government signed with vaccine manufacturers.

Including Medicago, the feds signed agreements with Moderna (up to 44 million doses), Pfizer-BioNTech (up to 51 million), Johnson and Johnson (up to 38 million), Novovax (up to 76 million), Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline (up to 72 million), and AstraZeneca (20 million).

At the time, the feds did not know if any of the vaccines would receive approval from Health Canada. Officials have repeatedly refused to disclose the amounts paid for any of those vaccines.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, industry rates from all vaccine manufacturers ranged from $14.50 per dose in the European Union to $19.50 in the United States. In a December 6 report, Canada's Auditor General said costs averaged about $30 per dose.

Ultimately, the Medicago contract never panned out as the World Health Organization (WHO) refused to accept its vaccine for emergency use last year. In February, the company terminated the contract "by mutual consent," citing "significant changes" to the vaccine market.

Auon confirmed "Medicago was released of its obligations" in the advance contract.

"Another $150 million in taxpayer waste appears to have vanished. The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Minister of Health report to this committee and must be accountable," reads a letter penned by Conservative and Bloc MPs on the health committee.

Health Minister Mark Holland condemned the accusations of 'wastefulness' by opposition parties as "completely unfounded."

He also justified their advance purchase agreements with six other COVID jab manufacturers, stating his government had to provide Canadians with a quick vaccine supply.

"It was impossible to know at that time which would be good for people," said Holland. "That’s the reason why it was important to try all options, and that’s the issue here."

On March 23, the Commons public accounts committee ordered the Department of Public Works to surrender secret COVID jab contracts for scrutiny. 

"We simply want to ensure there was no abuse and that if mistakes were made, we could learn from them," said Bloc MP Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, 11 public accounts committee members accessed the contracts in a closed room without access to smartphones, cameras or written notes.

At the time, Pfizer executives threatened that Canada could lose its "reputation" and foreign investment if MPs insisted on reading contracts that cost taxpayers $5 billion.

According to the Auditor General report, the federal agency had a large surplus, leading to considerable vaccine wastage.

Health Canada previously ordered 238 million doses of COVID vaccines from Pfizer Canada to vaccinate residents, including 30 million for 2023 and 2024 that further contributed to the oversupply.

Auditor General Karen Hogan estimated the federal government wasted $1 billion in COVID jabs that expired at the end of December 2022. She blamed distribution and tracking issues caused by government negligence.

VaccineConnect did not adequately keep track of doses, she said, placing blame on Deloitte, another government contractor, who designed and managed the program on a nearly $60-million contract.

Between December 2020 and December 2022, Ottawa purchased approximately 169 million doses for nearly $5 billion. 

During that period, Canadians received 84.1 million COVID jabs, with 32.5 million doses unused as of May 2022, and another 13.6 million expired at the time of the report.

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