The Canadian press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s other vaccine supplier will have to cut supplies next week.
Moderna will only ship around three quarters of the expected supply, reducing Canada’s next shipment by more than 50,000 cans.
Canada should receive more than 230,000 doses of Moderna next week, but will receive a little less than 180,000 instead.
Moderna’s Canadian manager said in a written statement that the delay was related to the manufacture of the « drug substance » component of the Moderna vaccine, carried out by Swiss drug maker Lonza in Visp, Switzerland.
Patricia Gauthier said the delays were short term for non-U. S. Customers, and the company will still be able to ship its promised cans in the first three months of the year. For Canada, that’s two million cans. Canada has received 340,200 cans of Moderna to date.
« Moderna continues to focus on working to the highest quality standards to ensure the safety of the vaccine, » said Gauthier.
Lonza is creating three new production lines in Visp to manufacture the drug components of Moderna’s vaccine. The first started production in early January, the others should be added before the end of March.
Trudeau said as companies build these vaccines manufacturing from scratch, delays in the early days are not unexpected.
Similar cuts are being made to deliveries in Europe. Italy, France and Switzerland report that they too received less than 80 percent of their expected doses.
It’s worse news for Canada’s already troubled vaccine supplies after Pfizer cut supplies by more than two-thirds since mid-January. The Canadian provinces had to slow down vaccinations considerably as Pfizer’s broadcasts were
Pfizer is also urging Canada to change the label on its vaccine to state that each vial contains six instead of five doses so that the drug manufacturer can meet its supply contract by sending fewer vials.
However, Trudeau says that new export controls that Europe is placing on the COVID-19 vaccines it produces will not affect Canada, and he expects Pfizer and Moderna to catch up on their shipments shortly.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that the Commission is pursuing threats to force COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to show them what vaccines they make in Europe and where they are going.
She said the export transparency rule is temporary but needs to be implemented as the continent is in a constant battle with vaccine manufacturers over slow deliveries.
Both Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca are lagging behind on their scheduled shipments to European countries, but the latter is what Europe is fighting the loudest with, and are urging the company’s UK-made shipping cans to make up for outages due to production issues in its European plants .
Trudeau spoke to von der Leyen earlier this week and he said she had told him Canada’s deliveries would continue. International Trade Minister Mary Ng spoke to European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis on Thursday and said he reiterated that promise.
The news of the delivery will overshadow the positive vaccine development on Friday. The American pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson report that their vaccine is very good at preventing people from being hospitalized or dying of COVID-19.
The vaccine is the first to use a single dose and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months. This makes him a potential trailblazer in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
The results aren’t quite as good as those of the two vaccines already approved by Health Canada. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna reported that their vaccines were 95 percent effective against serious diseases.
Johnson and Johnson say their single-dose vaccine is 85 percent effective against severe illness and 66 percent effective against moderate and severe illness one month after injection.
The federal government has pre-purchased 10 million doses of the vaccine but is still under review by Health Canada.
There is still no schedule as to when approval could come or when these doses would be shipped for use in Canada.
Michelle Chester, Northwell Health director of health services, is holding a bottle on Monday, December 21, 2020 with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Hospital in Valley Stream, NY. (Eduardo Munoz / Pool via AP)
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