Two empty vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit on a table at the Ottawa Hospital Tuesday December 15, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada to receive early shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine before year’s end

Canada to receive early shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine before year’s end

OTTAWA — The U.S. biotech firm Moderna is set to start delivering thousands of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada ahead of schedule this month, as long as it is approved it for use.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday in Ottawa that Moderna will deliver up to 168,000 doses by the end of December. That news came a week after a similar deal was reached with Pfizer for early delivery of up to 249,000 doses of the vaccine it produced in collaboration with German partner BioNTech.

“This is the good news we all needed,” Trudeau said. “This pandemic will end. We will get through this. But for now, we need to be incredibly careful.”

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Dec. 9, two days after the early delivery contract was announced, but it will likely be a little longer than that for Moderna.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, told The Canadian Press the department’s review of Moderna’s vaccine is in the final stages. She said the final clinical data from the Massachusetts-based biotech company were received Dec. 11, and the final data on the manufacturing process is expected before the end of the week.

“It does look promising and it does look positive,” said Sharma.

She said she will know better when the manufacturing data comes in how much longer it could be until a decision is made.

The first 30,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech began arriving in Canada this week. Health workers and long-term care residents in Ontario and Quebec are already being vaccinated with most provinces expected to follow suit by the weekend.

Trudeau said another 200,000 doses are coming from Pfizer next week, and the number of sites where inoculations are happening will be expanded from 14 this week, to 70 next week. That will make it easier to start vaccinating residents in long-term care homes, who are considered to be at highest risk of dying from COVID-19.

Pfizer and BioNTech are to deliver four million doses by the end of March and 20 million total by the end of 2021.

Canada has contracted to receive two million doses from Moderna by the end of March, and 40 million by the end of 2021. The first doses were originally not going to arrive until January, but if Health Canada finishes the review earlier, doses will start arriving this month.

Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses and use what is known as messenger RNA in their vaccines. It attaches some of the genetic code from the virus that causes COVID-19 to train a human immune system to fight the infection. Both report it prevented illness in more than nine in every 10 patients injected with it.

Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a regular freezer, rather than the ultralow temperature freezers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs, which means it is easier to ship to remote communities.

Trudeau said the territories, which asked not to get Pfizer because of the cold-chain requirements, will be prioritized for the deliveries of Moderna. He said supplies, including freezers, are already being shipped so they are ready when the vaccine is.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said a dry run of the Moderna delivery took place Tuesday.

The first people prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are residents and workers in long-term care homes, front-line health workers at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19, people over the age of 80 living independently, and adults in remote Indigenous communities. Those groups will be expanded in April, when larger shipments of the vaccines are expected to start arriving. Health Canada said last week it expects to be able to vaccinate every Canadian by the end of September 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for use on people over the age of 16, who are not allergic to any of the ingredients. However, people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have compromised immune systems are warned to talk to their doctor before getting a shot in the arm.

Th National Advisory Committee on Immunization Wednesday recommended more testing before COVID-19 vaccines are routinely offered to people in those groups, or kids under the age of 16.

But the committee’s experts also say if there is evidence the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the potential risks of COVID-19, it could be offered to pregnant women, kids as young as 12, or people who are immunosuppressed, with informed consent.

Pregnant women were not specifically included in Pfizer’s clinical trials but almost two dozen women who got the vaccine later became pregnant and reported no complications.

Pfizer tested the vaccine on a small sample of children between 12 and 15 years old in the fall, with no safety concerns reported, and intends to expand trials to children as young as five next year. Moderna is starting a trial on kids as young as 12 in January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2020.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US Vice-President Joe Biden walk down the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. If Joe Biden’s decision to kill off Keystone XL is supposed to sound the death knell for Canada-U.S. relations, you wouldn’t know it from the newly minted president’s call sheet. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
In wake of decision to kill Keystone XL, Biden’s first foreign-leader call? Trudeau

Biden rescinded former president Donald Trump’s approval of the US$8-billion cross-border pipeline expansion

Protesting farmers and their families gather around a bonfire to mark the harvest festival, which is called Lohri, on a blocked highway in protest against new farm laws on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Changes in India’s farm laws could potentially open up one of the world’s most populous markets and are being closely watched by Canada’s agricultural and economic sectors, say experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Altaf Qadri
Changes in Indian farm laws could benefit Canada, experts say

Independent committee of experts to negotiate with opponents of legislation

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
CFIB raises estimate of small businesses at risk of closing permanently

One in six Canadian small business owners seriously contemplating shutting down

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley shakes hands with Joel Ward, former Red Deer College President and CEO, as Notley announces that the college is now on the path to grant degrees. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Future of Red Deer University increasingly uncertain

MLA’s college update says RDC more like SAIT and NAIT than a university

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus looks into a souvenir shop displaying various of stickers, one of them showing a former U.S. President Donald Trump caricature, in Beijing, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. China imposed sanctions on nearly 30 former Trump administration officials moments after they left office on Wednesday. In a statement released just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated, Beijing slapped travel bans and business restrictions on Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and U.N. ambassador, Kelly Craft. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
China hopes for co-operation, better relations under Biden

U.S. need to relaunch co-operation in a number of areas

German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to the media during a press conference on the current situation in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. Topics include the decisions taken by the federal and state governments to combat the Corona pandemic, the Chancellor’s upcoming virtual consultations with the heads of state and government of the European Union (EU), and relations with the United States following the inauguration of the new president. (Michael Kappeler/Pool via AP)
Germany’s Merkel stands by Russia pipeline that US opposes

Washington says the project makes Europe more dependent on Russian gas and hurt European energy security

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, left, greets International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel during their meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)
Lithuania offers to replace Belarus as hockey worlds co-host

Tournament scheduled to run May 21 to June 6

Canadian international midfielder Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, left, is seen in action against St. Louis FC in an undated handout photo. Gagnon-Lapare has joined HFX Wanderers FC on a two-year deal with a club option for 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-HFX Wanderers FC
Canadian international Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare joins CPL’s HFX Wanderers FC

Gagnon-Lapare most recently with Ottawa Fury FC and St. Louis FC

An Italian police officer stands by a copy of the “Salvator Mundi” (Savior of the World) by Leonardo da Vinci, in Naples, Italy, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Italian police have recovered a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th century “Salvator Mundi” painting of Jesus Christ that was stolen from a Naples church without the priests even realizing it was gone. The discovery was made over the weekend when Naples police working on a bigger operation found the painting hidden in an apartment. Police chief Alfredo Fabbrocini said the owner offered a “less than credible” explanation that he had “casually” bought it at a small market. (Italian Police via AP)
Italian police find stolen copy of Leonardo ‘Salvator Mundi’

500-year-old copy of Leonardo da Vinci painting

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Inauguration fashion: Purple, pearls, American designers

Joe Biden wore navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren

Adam Hadwin, of Canada, chips to the second green during the first round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Matt Slocum
Adam Hadwin hopes to hit reset button in 2021 starting with American Express

Adam Hadwin hopes to hit reset button in 2021 starting with American Express

Japan's Yuto Totsuka competes during the men's World Cup freestyle halfpipe snowboard event in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Calgary runs out of runway to host world freestyle, snowboard championships

Calgary runs out of runway to host world freestyle, snowboard championships

Most Read