Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced that the COVID-19 vaccine candidate from Massachusetts-based Moderna will be available in Canada later this month when it secures the necessary regulatory approvals.
Health Canada’s regulators are in the final stages of the vaccine review process. The final decision on the authorization for emergency use could be made this week.
If the vaccine is approved, Canada will receive 168,000 doses by the end of December, Trudeau said. Deliveries are expected to begin within 48 hours after Health Canada’s authorization.
With recent polls showing that a sizeable number of Canadians will refuse a vaccine altogether, or will wait some time before lining up for a shot, Trudeau said he wants Canadians to be assured that the science will not be rushed and Canada’s regulators will only approve a product that works.
Moderna’s vaccine must be kept at -20 C – higher than the -70 C to -80 C range Pfizer requires for its vaccine. Therefore, there are many freezers across the country that can store this vaccine.
Since territories would not receive the Pfizer vaccine, Trudeau said the first doses of Moderna would be directed to northern regions, indigenous communities and remote areas. The vaccine is easier to transport over long distances in winter, he said.
Trudeau also said today that Canada will receive an additional 200,000 doses of Pfizer next week. The number of sites that could administer this injection increased from 14 to 70.
A total of six million Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are expected to arrive in Canada by the end of March 2021.
Moderna is working with many partners to produce its vaccines. Switzerland-based Lonza, one of the largest pharmaceutical services companies in the world, will manufacture the main active ingredient for this vaccine in New Hampshire and Switzerland.
Health Canada is currently looking at other vaccines from companies like AstraZeneca and Janssen, the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical company.
In total, Canada has ordered about 418 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from seven different companies – an insurance policy against the risk if some of the vaccines under development are ineffective.
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