Statements & Speeches

“Low Dead Space” Syringes (Question Period)

February 9, 2021

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Honourable senators, my question is for the Government Leader in the Senate. Today, Health Canada approved a label change for the Pfizer vaccine to extract six doses per vial instead of five. To accomplish this, the use of low dead space syringes is required to minimize vaccine wastage. Earlier this month, Minister Anand stated that the government had increased its order of these syringes. The use of low dead space syringes will also require training for health care personnel, with videos to demonstrate the specific technique needed in order to extract six doses reliably.

Senator Gold, how many low dead space syringes does the government estimate will be needed to complete COVID-19 vaccine distribution among Canadians? How many of these syringes have arrived in Canada to date, and have they been delivered to provinces and territories? Finally, how will your government support training for personnel administering the doses?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your questions, important questions. I certainly will make every effort to get the information as quickly as possible. I just don’t know the numbers. I was aware of the announcement, as you referenced, and I will inquire with the relevant minister and department, and try to get the answers to this chamber as quickly as possible.

Hon. Judith G. Seidman: Leader, as you stated yesterday, the Government of Canada has chosen to not make public its procurement contracts with vaccine manufacturers. Could you make inquiries and let us know for each of the other companies in the government’s vaccine portfolio — that is Moderna, AstraZeneca, Medicago, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline — does the contract with these companies specify the use of low dead space syringes to minimize vaccine wastage?

Senator Gold: I’ll certainly make inquiries, senator. Whether or not I’m in a position to report will depend on the answers I get, but I will do my very best to get the information.