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

Click to play video: 'Trudeau says new agreement with Pfizer to double COVID-19 vaccine doses in coming months' Trudeau says new agreement with Pfizer to double COVID-19 vaccine doses in coming months
WATCH: Trudeau says new agreement with Pfizer to double COVID-19 vaccine doses in coming months – Apr 16, 2021

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.”

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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.”

She said the production issues will also delay things over the coming months.

One to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses that had been expected in the second quarter of this year may be delayed until the third quarter.

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“This news is obviously very disappointing,” Anand said. “Our government will, however, continue to bring vaccines into the country in the face of volatile supply chains.”

Click to play video: '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
Canada to receive 2.8 million Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses in May, officials address delays – Apr 15, 2021

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.

Moderna said in a statement to the Canadian Press there has been a “shortfall” in estimated doses from the European supply chain, and that it will be “making adjustments” to expected delivery quantities in a number of countries, including Canada.

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Moderna’s chief executive cast down on the company’s ability to speed up output markedly in the next few months, telling Reuters “adding big chunks of capacity takes time.”

Anand said while she appreciates the difficulties the company may be facing, Canada will “press Moderna going forward to make sure Canada’s voice is known and heard and that we very much expect them to meet their quarterly targets.”

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.

In addition to the agreement for eight million more doses, Anand said Pfizer will move another 400,000 doses from the third quarter into June.“Thus the delivery schedule for both May and June will see approximately two million doses of Pfizer coming into the country every week, and in June, that amount will be more,” she said.Anand said 12 million doses will be “spread over” the weeks in June.Between April and June, she said Canada now expects 24 million doses of Pfizer alone.
Click to play video: 'Vaccine redirection to COVID-19 hotspots reduces Eastern Ontario’s supply' Vaccine redirection to COVID-19 hotspots reduces Eastern Ontario’s supply
Vaccine redirection to COVID-19 hotspots reduces Eastern Ontario’s supply – Apr 15, 2021
As for AstraZeneca, though no shots are expected this week, Canada expects to receive 4.1 million doses by the end of June “with further deliveries in the third quarter,” Anand said.The long-awaited single-shot vaccine by Johnson & Johnson will soon join the vaccine arsenal as well. Canada’s first shipment of the shot — approximately 300,000 doses — is expected to arrive during the week of April 27.The shots will make it into the hands of provinces and territories at the beginning of May, Anand said, with more deliveries coming later in the spring and into the summer.Concerns surrounding blood clots have hampered the vaccines by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in recent weeks.

Read more: Survivor of rare blood clot after AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recalls ordeal

On Tuesday, U.S. health agencies called for an immediate “pause” in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s shot “out of an abundance of caution” following reports of blood clots in a handful of recipients.Trudeau said he’s “aware of the concerns in the United States” and that Canada will “follow the most updated Health Canada recommendations” once the shots arrive in the country.With a massive spike in the number of new COVID-19 infections, the rush to get vaccines into Canadians’ arms has grown more urgent.
Click to play video: 'Moderna says booster shot against COVID-19 variants could be ready by year’s end' Moderna says booster shot against COVID-19 variants could be ready by year’s end
Moderna says booster shot against COVID-19 variants could be ready by year’s end – Apr 7, 2021
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.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

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