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Feds warn of more possible disruptions to Moderna COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in Feb

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The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is warning the provinces and territories that the country could see further disruptions to its deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna this month, according to a document obtained by Global News.

Last week, PHAC announced American pharmaceutical giant Moderna would only be shipping approximately 78 per cent of Canada’s expected allotment of its COVID-19 vaccine during the first week of February.

Canada will receive only 180,000 doses in the first week of February, instead of 230,400.

“This change does not impact the quarterly deliveries under contract as a whole,” a press release dated Jan. 29 reads.

The agency said Moderna “confirmed that Canada will receive the full quarter 1 allocation of 2 million doses by the end of March.”

Read more: Moderna joins Pfizer in cutting back on vaccine deliveries to Canada next week

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However, in a document obtained by Global News, PHAC said the week of Feb. 22 “will also be impacted.”

“But Moderna cannot confirm allocations for that week yet,” the document, signed by Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin — who has been tasked with vaccine rollout logistics — reads.

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In a statement emailed to Global News, Eric Morrissette a spokesperson for Health Canada, said the agency still expects to receive 2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine “by the end of March.”

He said while the scheduled delivery for the week of Feb. 22 -28 is “still expected,” the “decision was taken to remove the forecasted allocations from our webpage until final shipment details are confirmed by the manufacturer.”

“Changes in supply may occur and are difficult to forecast as they are affected by a manufacturer’s production capacities and distribution outside of Canada,” the statement said.

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Read more: Canada not looking at suing Pfizer over COVID-19 vaccine delay: minister

Global News has reached out to Moderna for comment and to determine how many doses the country is expected to receive in February, but did not immediately hear back.

Pfizer delays

The news comes as Canada continues to grapple with supply constraints from Pfizer-BioNTech, which manufactures the only other vaccine approved for use by Health Canada.

Last month the government announced the country’s shipments would be reduced by an average of 50 per cent over four weeks.

Pfizer said the temporary disruption was so it could scale-up its European manufacturing capacity.

Read more: Coronavirus vaccine tracker — How many Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19?

However, speaking during an emergency debate in the House of Commons last week, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said she has been in contact with representatives at Pfizer “almost on a daily basis,” adding that the country can “expect a ramp-up of deliveries of vaccines following this disruption.”

She said the company has confirmed that “hundreds of thousands” of doses will be delivered the week of Feb. 15 “and the weeks that follow.”

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Canada still ‘on track’

Earlier on Wednesday, during question period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about Canada’s vaccine deliveries.

He said Canada continues to be “on track to receiving the six million doses promised by the end of March.”

He said the country will have 20 million doses in the spring.

“And we will have all Canadians vaccinated by September — if they want one,” he said.

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However, according to the Health Canada website, as of Jan. 21, only 1.1 million doses of the two vaccines approved had been distributed across the country.

Of those, 996,572 have been administered, according to a Global News tally.

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This means to date, only 1.3 per cent of the Canadian population has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

While worries about supply and speed are brewing around the world, Canada seems to be falling short compared to its allies, like the U.K. and U.S.

A recent analysis from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Canada as on par with Brazil in terms of vaccine delivery timelines, while the United States and Europe were all on track for widespread vaccination by the end of this year.

The report suggested Canada may not be on track for widespread vaccination by the federal government’s self-imposed September deadline.

-With files from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore

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