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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read