Canada adds millions more Pfizer doses over spring, but Moderna cuts back

Canada’s mass vaccination effort will see both a boost and a setback in the coming months, with a significant increase in Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine doses but a cut in Moderna’s.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada has secured a new agreement with Pfizer for eight million additional doses of their vaccine.

The new deal will see Canada receive four million additional Pfizer doses in May, another two million in June, and two million more in July.

“For next month alone, this will come out to about double the Pfizer doses we were originally expecting. All told, we’ll be receiving eight million doses in May and almost 12 million in June from Pfizer alone,” Trudeau said at a press conference.

“That’s a lot of numbers so here’s the bottom line — more doses arriving sooner means more people getting the vaccine faster.”

READ MORE: Moderna COVID-19 vaccine over 90% effective 6 months after booster shot, data shows

The setback, however, will come from Moderna starting this month. Canada was due to receive 1.2 million doses of the vaccine by the end of April. That will now be cut to 650,000.

Public Services and Procurement Canada Minister Anita Anand said the reduction is due to a “slower than anticipated ramp-up of their production capacity and is affecting a number of countries.”

The production issues will also delay expected deliveries for the second quarter of the year.

One to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses that had been expected “may be delayed until the third quarter,” Anand said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Canada to receive 2.8 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses in May, officials address delays' 6:51 Canada to receive 2.8 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses in May, officials address delays

Canada to receive 2.8 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses in May, officials address delays

It’s not the first time Canada has faced setbacks from Moderna. In February, Moderna sent about 180,000 doses instead of the expected 230,400.

Earlier this month, Moderna again indicated that a batch of 855,000 doses would be delayed by a week. Those doses have since arrived in the country and distribution was expected to wrap up Thursday.

At the time, officials indicated there could be a similar delay in the delivery of 1.2 million doses from Moderna next week.

But Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution team, said quality assurance backlogs — not production issues — were to blame for the delays.

“We’re fully aware the provinces are making adjustments and we’re trying to narrow this down as much as possible so that they don’t find themselves in situations where they have to constantly react to perceived delays,” Fortin said Thursday.

Read more: Moderna begins testing new COVID-19 vaccine that can be stored in refrigerators

By comparison, Pfizer has been consistently delivering more than one million shots to Canada each week for more than a month. That trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Canada is not expecting any shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson and Johnson vaccines this week.Canada’s mass vaccination effort has been plagued by delays. With a massive spike in the number of new COVID-19 infections, the rush to get vaccines into Canadians’ arms has grown more urgent.On Thursday, Canada set another record for new COVID-19 cases, with daily infections surging past 9,500 for the first time since the pandemic began over a year ago.

Click to play video: 'Vaccine redirection to COVID-19 hotspots reduces Eastern Ontario’s supply' 2:09 Vaccine redirection to COVID-19 hotspots reduces Eastern Ontario’s supply

Vaccine redirection to COVID-19 hotspots reduces Eastern Ontario’s supply
More transmissible variants of concern are now making up a significant portion of new cases in several provinces and have also made their way into the northern territories.As of Thursday evening, 51,643 cases of all three variants identified in Canada have been confirmed.

— with files from the Canadian Press and Global News’ Sean Boynton


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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