A vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Hartford Hospital, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Jessica Hill

A vial of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Hartford Hospital, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Hartford, Conn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Jessica Hill

Moderna establishing Canadian division amid COVID-19 vaccine rollout

OTTAWA — U.S. biotech firm Moderna is establishing a Canadian office as it ramps up plans to rolls out its COVID-19 vaccine here as soon as Health Canada approves it.

Patricia Gauthier, the new general manager for the Canadian office, says the company had been eyeing expanding outside the United States before COVID-19 but the pandemic accelerated those plans.

She was hired three weeks ago and remains the only Canadian employee for now, with an initial focus on helping the Canadian government get the Moderna vaccine approved, shipped and injected.

She says that includes efforts to communicate to Canadians the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which uses a novel genetic technology to train the immune system to fight off the virus that causes COVID-19.

Health Canada is in the final stage of its review of Moderna’s vaccine, looking to ensure the manufacturing facility and process meet expected standards.

Moderna is expected to be the second COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada, with enough doses available in 2021 to vaccinate two-thirds of Canada’s adult population.

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