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Canada to receive Moderna vaccines before end of December

Last Updated Dec 15, 2020 at 11:48 am PST

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Canada has secured a deal with Moderna to receive up to 168,000 doses of its COVID-19 drug by the end of December

Delivery of the Moderna drug is contingent on Health Canada approval

Canada is expecting around 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine next week

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Canada has secured a new deal with Moderna that will see up to 168,000 doses of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine arrive in the country by the end of this month.

The deliveries are contingent on Health Canada approval of the drug, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Tuesday. Once approval is given, vaccine doses are expected to be delivered within 48 hours.

“These doses are part of the guaranteed 40-million doses we have secured from Moderna,” Trudeau explained.

“Like the co-founder of Moderna pointed out a few weeks ago, Canada was among the very first to pre-order their vaccine. That combined with our solid plan for vaccine rollout is why we have an agreement for early doses.”

News of the new deal comes provinces begin their mass vaccination campaigns following the approval of the Pfizer drug.

Pfizer’s initial shipment arrived in Canada on Sunday. The first vaccines were administered in Ontario and Quebec on Monday, with other provinces following suit later in the week.

B.C. has plans to vaccinate its first people against COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The disadvantage with the Pfizer vaccine is that it needs to be kept in extremely cold temperatures before it is administered. The Moderna drug does not have these same issues, meaning it has a simpler distribution.

“No community will be left behind. We have a plan to reach everyone who wants a vaccine no matter where they live. Of course, shipping in the winter, especially to the far north, isn’t without its challenges. The Moderna vaccine does not need some of the extra special handling requirements of the one from Pfizer, including ultra-cold freezers. That makes it a better option to ship over long distances to more remote areas,” Trudeau explained, adding doses of the Moderna shipment will be dedicated for these areas.

Next Pfizer shipment coming

In addition to the Moderna deal, Trudeau confirmed more Pfizer vaccines were expected next week.

“Next week we will receive about 200,000 of our total early doses from Pfizer,” he said. “As well, we will have 70 sites ready to administer these doses, up from 14 sites this week.”

The prime minister said with the arrival of vaccines to Canada, we’re seeing the end of the pandemic. However, he noted there’s still a lot of work to do before we get to that point.

The federal government has bought 20 million doses of Pfizer and German partner BioNTech’s vaccine — which requires people receive two shots each — with the option to buy 56 million more. Four million doses are expected to arrive in Canada by March.

Health Canada approved Pfizer’s vaccine on Dec. 9. It was less than a week until the initial shipment touched down in Canada.