It’s a tale of two vaccine developments Friday, as Moderna announced that it is cutting its next shipment to Canada in half with the country reaching a deal to acquire approximately 8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from May through July.
The company confirmed to the federal government that the next expected shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines that were scheduled for the end of April will now be 650,000 doses instead of 1.2 million.
Moderna also said that one to two million doses of the 12.3 million scheduled to arrive in the second quarter could be pushed back to the third quarter.
Procurement minister Anita Anand says Moderna advised that the changes are due to a slower than expected ramp-up of the drugmaker’s production capacity and is affecting a number of countries. The federal government will provide an update when they get any additional information.
“We continue to press Moderna for consistency of supply to Canada,” says Anand. “We are disappointed, and while we understand the challenges facing suppliers in the current global market for vaccines, our government will continue to press Moderna to fulfill its commitments.”
CityNews learned Thursday that the Ford government has been informed of a delay of half a million doses of Moderna that were expected on April 19.
The 500,000 doses were initially pushed back to April 29, and now the arrival is not expected until May 3.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed that Pfizer shipments are set to increase substantially with expected shipments of an additional four million doses in May, two million in June, and another two million in July.
“I want to thank everyone at Pfizer for their cooperation and hard work, not to just not just to keep deliveries on schedule, but to move more doses up and reach new agreements,” said Trudeau.
BREAKING: The Prime Minister announces Canada has reached a new deal to purchase 8-million additional Pfizer doses. They will be delivered in May, June and July on top of the originally scheduled doses #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) April 16, 2021
“With the new deal, Canada will receive 4 million additional Pfizer doses in May, another 2 million in June, and 2 million more in July.”
The federal government is also prepared to deploy Red Cross vaccination teams to Ontario to help get more residents treated against the virus, Trudeau says.
“We are extremely preoccupied with the situation in Ontario right now,” said Trudeau. “We are there to help and we look forward to delivering any help they need.”
The Ford government quickly responded to Trudeau’s proposal, saying the province has a supply issue and not a capacity issue.
“While we appreciate the Prime Minister’s offer unless it is matched with an increase in supply, we do not need the Red Cross at this time for the administration of vaccines in Ontario,” said Doug Ford’s office.
“We do not have a capacity issue, we have a supply issue.”
Trudeau says assistance could be set up at mobile vaccination clinics in Toronto, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the country’s most populous city.
“In Toronto in particular, numbers are breaking record after record as ICU hospital beds are filling up,” he said. “There’s no doubt that Canada’s largest city is struggling under the weight of this third wave so we’re going to do whatever it takes to help.”
Ontario is reporting more than 4,800 new cases of COVID-19 today, reaching a new peak for the second day in a row.
More than 1,400 of the new cases are in Toronto.
Provinces have complained that the Moderna delay follows another setback from the drugmaker and it is seriously causing logistical problems for their vaccine rollout, especially in Ontario where cases and hospitalizations are spiking significantly.
Major Gen. Dany Fortin says they are in constant contact with provincial officials.
“We are working closely with provinces and territories to risk manage this efficiently,” says Fortin. “I think it’s worth mentioning that we are fully aware that provinces are making adjustments and we are trying to narrow this down as much as possible.”
Ontario did receive just over 300,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, though that shipment also arrived after a delay.
Trudeau says the bottom line is more doses arriving sooner, means more people getting their vaccines faster.
With files from The Canadian Press