Workers unload a shipment of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine at the FedEx hub at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is trying to negotiate a deal to start getting doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from the United States instead of Europe. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Workers unload a shipment of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine at the FedEx hub at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is trying to negotiate a deal to start getting doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine from the United States instead of Europe. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Pfizer increasing vaccine shipments as Canada appeals to U.S. to help with Moderna

Pfizer will get all 48 million of Canada’s doses into the country before Labour Day

Procurement Minister Anita Anand is pushing Moderna to start shipping its COVID-19 vaccine doses to Canada from the United States instead of Europe.

The negotiations, which also involve the U.S. government, come a month after Pfizer-BioNTech shifted Canada’s supply from Europe to the Pfizer plant in Kalamazoo, Mich. Anand said Friday Pfizer will ship more than two million doses a week through to the end of August — and get all 48 million of Canada’s doses into the country before Labour Day.

It has also agreed to ship another three million doses in September, bringing Canada’s total 2021 supply to 51 million doses.

“I would like to sincerely thank Pfizer for the partnership,” Anand gushed at a news conference Friday. “We have a complete delivery scheduled from Pfizer. Pfizer’s deliveries arrive on time and are stable. Thank you so much.”

She could not say the same to Moderna, which has sent just one-third of its planned spring shipments to date, and hasn’t been able to provide any shipment confirmations beyond June 14.

In mid-May both Moderna and Andy Slavitt, a senior adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden on COVID-19, said the company was going to start exporting doses. Initially the U.S. forbade the export of any American-made COVID-19 vaccines until U.S. orders had mostly been fulfilled.

Neither would say where the first exports were going, and the company’s spokeswoman told The Canadian Press Thursday there was currently no news on changing the origin of Canada’s supply.

But Anand told The Canadian Press in a written statement that Canada is “pressing for deliveries from the company’s U.S. facilities.”

“I continue to work with Moderna as well as the U.S. government to stabilize its delivery schedule to Canada,” she said Friday.

Moderna, which has never had a product on the market before, has provided vague explanations about production delays at its European production lines. The company signed an exclusive agreement with Swiss drugmaker Lonza to make its vaccine in both the U.S. and Europe. The brand new mRNA technology required Lonza to build production lines from scratch.

Anand has been pushing the company for weeks to give her a more reliable shipping schedule, but it hasn’t happened.

Moderna announced in February production delays would slow Canada’s shipments but was able to fulfil its contract to ship two million doses by March 31 by a matter of hours.

In April, it said a backlog in quality assurance checks in Europe was slowing deliveries once again. It cut the second April shipment in half and warned it may only be able to send 10.3 million doses by the end of June instead of the initially promised 12.3 million.

It has since blamed human resource and material issues for production delays, which have not appeared to affect the U.S. deliveries at all.

Moderna has currently shipped about four million doses since April 1, with another 1.5 million promised June 14. Anand said she expects “millions more” this month but can’t say how many or when.

The company is supposed to ship 44 million doses by September, and depending on future uptake of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, Canada will need Moderna to at least ship half of its remaining allotment to hit the goal of having two doses for every Canadian by the fall.

As of Friday, Canada had given at least one dose to more than 22.7 million people, 2.5 million of whom also have their second dose.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said before outdoor restrictions should be loosened, we should aim to get a first dose to 75 per cent of eligible Canadians — currently those at least 12 years old — and two doses to at least 20 per cent.

Canada needs to give out another two million first doses and 4.1 million second doses to get there.

There will be enough doses delivered by next week to hit that goal but it will likely take another two to three weeks. It will also require bigger shift from first to second doses.

—Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Tam urges 2nd COVID vaccine dose as Delta variant emerges ‘essentially across Canada’

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

North Westside residents can dispose of their unwanted bulky items between June 30 and July 14, 2021. (File photo)
North Westside residents can soon get rid of unwanted bulky items

Large household items can be disposed of at North Westside Transfer Station June 30 to July 14

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D area. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control to Electoral Area D; director calls for respectful discussion

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read