Canada’s second-largest COVID-19 vaccine supplier will exceed its revised June delivery target, the federal government announced Wednesday as it confirmed the country will have enough shots to fully vaccinate the majority of eligible people by the end of July.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced on Wednesday that Moderna will send seven million doses in June – more than doubling in a few weeks what it has delivered in the past five months.
Ms. Anand said the company will send 11.2 million doses in this quarter. In April, the company downgraded the amount Canada would get between April and June – to 10.3 million shots from 12.3 million.
“Their numbers were targets primarily so they are not in breach of contract and, indeed, we should be grateful that they are prioritizing Canada for vaccine supply,” Ms. Anand said at a virtual press conference.
Vaccines from the U.S.-based company are critical to the federal government’s goal to fully vaccinate everyone eligible by the end of September. Globe and Mail tracking shows the country is on course to beat that target with enough vaccines expected to arrive in Canada by August.
In the past two months, Canada’s vaccination campaign has dramatically escalated. As of Wednesday, The Globe’s tracking showed 9 per cent of people are fully vaccinated and 54 per cent are partly vaccinated. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website, at the beginning of April just 2 per cent of people were fully vaccinated and 13 per cent were partly vaccinated.
For the first time, Moderna will also start supplying Canada with vaccines from its U.S. plant, Ms. Anand said, although the new supply chain is still subject to regulatory review. Until now, all of Canada’s Moderna vaccines have been sent from its European supply chain.
In a separate statement, Patricia Gauthier, manager of Moderna’s Canadian operations, said the shipments are the first U.S.-made Moderna vaccines to leave that country. The White House negotiated the right to the first hundreds of millions of doses made by Pfizer and Moderna on U.S. soil in its contracts with the companies.
“Vaccine doses manufactured in the U.S. are subject to regulatory approval by Health Canada and we are working closely with regulators to facilitate this approval,” Ms. Gauthier said. “We are excited about this development and optimistic that total deliveries to Canada will meet our revised commitment for the quarter.”
Since February, the company has struggled to meet its delivery schedules, with several shipments arriving late. In comparison, Pfizer-BioNTech, which is the biggest supplier for Canada’s vaccination campaign, has repeatedly moved up delivery of vaccines and has confirmed its entire monthly delivery schedule. All 51 million doses are expected by the end of September. The government has previously said that all 44 million doses it bought from Moderna will also be delivered by then.
“Based on confirmed deliveries alone, Canada is set to receive at least 55 million doses by the end of July,” Ms. Anand said, which she said would be enough to fully vaccinate 80 per cent of eligible people. “To be clear, that is the minimum number of doses that we anticipate receiving in that time frame,” she added.
So far the government has only released confirmed deliveries from Pfizer for July.
Amid the uncertainty around Moderna deliveries, and other shipments, including the multiple sources that Canada is relying on for the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government in May started playing down how many doses Canada would receive in the first half of the year. In April, Ms. Anand and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had repeatedly said that Canada would receive between 48 and 50 million shots by the end of June. That estimate was adjusted in May, when officials said the floor for deliveries would be 40 million shots.
The confirmed deliveries from Moderna ensure Canada will more than surpass that lower target. Ms. Anand, though, did not release a revised total for the first half of the year. She said the government is still pushing for other deliveries before the end of June, so a final number is not yet confirmed.
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