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Families and youth aged 12 and older line up for a COVID-19 vaccine at Gordon A Brown Middle School in Toronto on May 19, 2021.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Canada will hit the critical milestone of getting 20 per cent of Canadians their second COVID-19 vaccine dose in June and reach 50 per cent second-dose coverage by July or August, the Public Health Agency of Canada told a House of Commons committee on Friday.

The new projections were disclosed as questions arise about the total number of vaccines Canada is expecting to receive by the end of spring. On Friday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the country will receive a cumulative total of more than 40 million doses by the end of June but he didn’t say whether shipments would still reach the 48 million doses his government previously said were coming by then.

The level of first- and second-dose coverage is critical to reopening plans across the country. In April, the agency said 75 per cent first-dose coverage among adults and 20 per cent second-dose coverage was needed to safely lift public health restrictions.

The agency’s president, Iain Stewart, told members of Parliament on the health committee that Canada will reach 20 per cent coverage by late June. Asked by Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner when half of the population would receive their second shots, Mr. Stewart said that’s something “we would be achieving in July, the back end of July, [or] August, in and around there.”

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Canada’s vaccination pace has increased significantly in the past few weeks. On Friday, deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo said in the past five weeks the number of vaccinations has almost doubled: from 10 million shots administered between December and mid-April, to almost 20 million doses administered as of Friday.

Just how fast Canada can continue the vaccine rollout, though, is unclear. Ottawa is waiting to finalize shipment details from Moderna, COVAX and AstraZeneca, and for a quality-control review of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. On Thursday, federal officials dampened expectations previously set by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Procurement Minister Anita Anand that the country would receive between 48 and 50 million doses of vaccine by the end of June. The minimum confirmed delivery is now 40 million doses.

“We remain confident that that 40 million number will increase to reflect the doses we expect to receive from Moderna,” Mr. LeBlanc told reporters on Friday.

To meet its target for the end of June, Moderna must deliver another 6.6 million doses of its vaccine. On Friday the company suggested it still expects to meet its target for the second quarter of the year.

“We continue to work closely with federal and provincial health officials to share information and are working towards achieving our vaccine delivery commitments for June,” Patricia Gauthier, manager of Moderna’s Canadian operations, said in a statement.

Ms. Anand is meeting with the company on Tuesday to stress the need for more certainty around deliveries. At the health committee, deputy minister of procurement Bill Matthews told MPs he couldn’t disclose how many shots will arrive in June because the government is waiting for a revised schedule from the company. Mr. Matthews said the next Moderna shipment is expected in the first week of June.

Canada is also counting on other vaccine deliveries if it is to hit the 48-million-dose target, but there is also uncertainty for some of those shipments.

The government was expecting a shipment of 1.5 million doses from the Serum Institute of India, but that company said it won’t export vaccines again until the end of this year.

One million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, supplied through COVAX, are also outstanding. On Friday, Mr. Stewart told MPs that another shipment is expected in the next five weeks but he did not specify how much is expected in that delivery. The federal government is also expecting a separate shipment of one million doses directly from AstraZeneca in June.

Mr. Matthews said the delivery schedule for the single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is tied up in Health Canada’s quality-control review of the vaccine over concerns around part of the manufacturing process at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc. plant in Baltimore.

“Until that facility is cleared from a regulatory perspective, we are on hold in terms of the schedule,” Mr. Matthews said.

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