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Moderna cuts back deliveries, Canada to receive fewer vaccine doses than expected next week

Last Updated Jan 29, 2021 at 1:26 pm EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s other vaccine supplier has to cut back on its deliveries next week.

Moderna will ship only about three-quarters of the expected supply, cutting Canada’s next shipment by more than 50,000 doses.

He says the next shipment arrives next week and we’ll be getting 78 percent of the expected amount – which works out to 180,000 doses.

“In the short-term, those numbers can fluctuate but as global production continues to pick up, there will be more stability in the system and most importantly, this temporary delay doesn’t change the fact that we will still receive two million doses of the Moderna vaccine, as planned, before the end of March,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau says he also had another call with Pfizer C-E-O Albert Bourla, who said that Canada will still receive its promised four-million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of March.

RELATED: Ontario adjusts Pfizer vaccine distribution amid delays, plan to speed up inoculations of LTC residents

“We also talked about Canada receiving more doses ahead of schedule starting in the Spring we’ll have more details to share on that next week,” Trudeau said about Pfizer.

“Production lines around the globe are adapting to high demand from every country. We’re focused day in and day out about getting a vaccine to every Canadian who wants one by the end of September.”

Similar cuts are being made to Europe’s deliveries, with Italy, France, and Switzerland all reporting they, too, are getting less than 80 percent of their expected doses.

It is more bad news for Canada’s already troubled vaccine supplies after Pfizer cut back its deliveries by more than two-thirds since mid-January.

Pfizer is also pushing Canada to change the label on its vaccine to declare each vial contains six doses, instead of five, allowing the drugmaker to meet its delivery contract by sending fewer vials.

However, Trudeau says new export controls Europe is imposing on COVID-19 vaccines produced there won’t affect Canada, and he expects Pfizer and Moderna to catch up on their deliveries before long.

RELATED: EU regulator authorizes AstraZeneca vaccine for use in all adults

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday the commission is following through on a threat to force COVID-19 vaccine makers to show them what vaccines they are producing in Europe and where those are going.

Trudeau spoke with von der Leyen earlier this week and he said she told him Canada’s deliveries would continue. International Trade Minister Mary Ng spoke Thursday with European trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and said he reiterated that assurance.

The delivery news will overshadow Friday’s positive vaccine development with American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson reporting its vaccine is very good at preventing people from being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19.

The vaccine is the first to use just a single dose and can be stored in a fridge for up to three months, making it a potential game-changer in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The results aren’t quite as good as those seen in the two vaccines Health Canada has already approved, with both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna saying their vaccines showed 95 percent efficacy against severe illness.

Health Canada said Friday that a decision on AstraZeneca’s approval for use will be announced in the coming days.

Johnson and Johnson say its single-dose vaccine is 85 percent effective against severe illness a month after the injection is given, and 66 percent effective against both moderate and severe illness.

The federal government has already pre-purchased 10 million doses of the vaccine, but it is still being reviewed by Health Canada.

There is no timeline yet for when approval might come or when those doses would be delivered for use in Canada.

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