Moderna says it will deliver seven million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Canada before the end of June, which the federal government says puts it in line with its contract obligations, even though it falls short by about a million doses of the original plan.
Moderna will switch to using its American production facility instead of its Europe-based factories to supply millions of the mRNA vaccine doses that it contracted to ship to Canada in the second quarter.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand told reporters Wednesday said details of the new expected shipments will be outlined next week.
She said the seven million doses will come in two or three shipments from the U.S. once Health Canada has given regulatory approval for the new source of supply. The regulator approves not just vaccines, but also certifies facilities to ensure they follow what is known as good manufacturing practices.
Anand said because Canada and Moderna had revised down the original projection for the second quarter delivery of 12.3 million doses to 10.3 million, the company is not in breach of its contract.
“And we should be grateful they are prioritizing Canada for supply in light of global demand,” Anand said.
However the new agreement means the company will deliver 11.2 million doses in the second quarter, or 1.1 million shy of the original target of 12.3 million doses.
Anand said that negotiations with the company and Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, led to a breakthrough this week.
The U.S. has tightly controlled any export of vaccines manufactured on its soil.
Canada signed an advance purchase agreement with Moderna last year, and approved its messenger RNA vaccine in December.
Despite some initial stumbles, Canada received the first two million Moderna doses in the first quarter as contracted by the start of April.
But the second quarter deliveries have been dogged by delays, due to unspecified production issues, at times ascribed to “backlogs in quality assurance.”
This week, Health Canada’s website listed Moderna deliveries at only 6,106,420 doses.
Federal numbers up to May 29 showed nearly 4.1 million Canadians had received at least a first dose of Moderna vaccine, while only 406,100 have been fully vaccinated with the product.
Most of Canada’s vaccine shipments have come from Pfizer-BioNTech — which has shipped 21 million doses, and is shipping 2.4 million a week this month. The company says it will ship at least two million doses each week from now to the end of August.
Anand said by the end of July, with all the confirmed deliveries of vaccines expected to arrive, 80 per cent of eligible Canadians will be able to be vaccinated.
In all, the federal government says it has delivered 30.6 million doses to provinces and territories, which have administered a total of 26.5 million vaccines in the arms of Canadians.