This photo shows blood samples from volunteers participating in the last-stage testing of the COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna and the National Institutes wait to be processed in a lab at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami. Creating vaccines and properly testing them less than a year after the world discovered a never-before-seen disease is incredible. But the two U.S. frontrunners are made in a way that promises speedier development may become the norm — especially if they prove to work long-term as well as they have in early testing. (AP Photo/Taimy Alvarez, File)

This photo shows blood samples from volunteers participating in the last-stage testing of the COVID-19 vaccine by Moderna and the National Institutes wait to be processed in a lab at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami. Creating vaccines and properly testing them less than a year after the world discovered a never-before-seen disease is incredible. But the two U.S. frontrunners are made in a way that promises speedier development may become the norm — especially if they prove to work long-term as well as they have in early testing. (AP Photo/Taimy Alvarez, File)

Canada to receive early shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine before year’s end

The Moderna vaccine has not yet been approved by Health Canada

The U.S. biotech firm Moderna is set to start delivering thousands of doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada ahead of schedule this month, as long as it is approved it for use.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday in Ottawa that Moderna will deliver up to 168,000 doses by the end of December. That news came a week after a similar deal was reached with Pfizer for early delivery of up to 249,000 doses of the vaccine it produced in collaboration with German partner BioNTech.

“This is the good news we all needed,” Trudeau said. “This pandemic will end. We will get through this. But for now, we need to be incredibly careful.”

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Dec. 9, two days after the early delivery contract was announced, but it will likely be a little longer than that for Moderna.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, told The Canadian Press the department’s review of Moderna’s vaccine is in the final stages. She said the final clinical data from the Massachusetts-based biotech company were received Dec. 11, and the final data on the manufacturing process is expected before the end of the week.

“It does look promising and it does look positive,” said Sharma.

She said she will know better when the manufacturing data comes in how much longer it could be until a decision is made.

The first 30,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech began arriving in Canada this week. Health workers and long-term care residents in Ontario and Quebec are already being vaccinated with most provinces expected to follow suit by the weekend.

Trudeau said another 200,000 doses are coming from Pfizer next week, and the number of sites where inoculations are happening will be expanded from 14 this week, to 70 next week. That will make it easier to start vaccinating residents in long-term care homes, who are considered to be at highest risk of dying from COVID-19.

Pfizer and BioNTech are to deliver four million doses by the end of March and 20 million total by the end of 2021.

Canada has contracted to receive two million doses from Moderna by the end of March, and 40 million by the end of 2021. The first doses were originally not going to arrive until January, but if Health Canada finishes the review earlier, doses will start arriving this month.

Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses and use what is known as messenger RNA in their vaccines. It attaches some of the genetic code from the virus that causes COVID-19 to train a human immune system to fight the infection. Both report it prevented illness in more than nine in every 10 patients injected with it.

Moderna’s vaccine can be stored in a regular freezer, rather than the ultralow temperature freezers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs, which means it is easier to ship to remote communities.

Trudeau said the territories, which asked not to get Pfizer because of the cold-chain requirements, will be prioritized for the deliveries of Moderna. He said supplies, including freezers, are already being shipped so they are ready when the vaccine is.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said a dry run of the Moderna delivery took place Tuesday.

The first people prioritized to receive COVID-19 vaccines in Canada are residents and workers in long-term care homes, front-line health workers at high-risk for exposure to COVID-19, people over the age of 80 living independently, and adults in remote Indigenous communities. Those groups will be expanded in April, when larger shipments of the vaccines are expected to start arriving. Health Canada said last week it expects to be able to vaccinate every Canadian by the end of September 2021.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized for use on people over the age of 16, who are not allergic to any of the ingredients. However, people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have compromised immune systems are warned to talk to their doctor before getting a shot in the arm.

Th National Advisory Committee on Immunization Wednesday recommended more testing before COVID-19 vaccines are routinely offered to people in those groups, or kids under the age of 16.

But the committee’s experts also say if there is evidence the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the potential risks of COVID-19, it could be offered to pregnant women, kids as young as 12, or people who are immunosuppressed, with informed consent.

Pregnant women were not specifically included in Pfizer’s clinical trials but almost two dozen women who got the vaccine later became pregnant and reported no complications.

Pfizer tested the vaccine on a small sample of children between 12 and 15 years old in the fall, with no safety concerns reported, and intends to expand trials to children as young as five next year. Moderna is starting a trial on kids as young as 12 in January.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

The Binche Fishing Derby at Stuart Lake is fast approaching. (Binche Fishing Derby Facebook photo)
Binche shares excitement for upcoming fishing derby

“It’s more than just fishing,” says Dave Birdi

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Local youth vaccination clinics underway

Pfizer vaccine will be used

Priya Sharma. (Submitted)
Column: Why ultimatums don’t work

By Priya Sharma It is a common misconception that people can choose… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Seth Rogen’s vibrant orange sculpture was sold for $7,000 above Vancouver Art Gallery’s initial estimation at auction Tuesday. June 15. (Heffel Fine Arts)
Vase made by Seth Rogen sells for $12,000 at Vancouver auction

The B.C.-born comedian has a new pot habit and it’s paying off

BC Lions running back John White IV (3) runs with the ball during first quarter CFL football action against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Saturday, September 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
BC Lions file trademark for new logo

Canadian Football League team files for new design on June 1

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Camper van explosion burns Vancouver Island gas station to the ground

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. The website for a Broadway theatre showing "Springsteen on Broadway" said it would only allow guests "fully vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine" — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
No Springsteen for you: AstraZeneca not good enough to qualify for Broadway ticket

Victoria area mayor among those unable to attend New York entertainment due to COVID-19 restriction

Most Read