“By tomorrow morning, a million Moderna doses will be on the ground in Canada,” Trudeau said Tuesday.
He added Canada will be picking up the doses in Europe later Tuesday evening. They will be distributed by the end of the week.
The early shipment is a welcome reprieve from recent months hampered by Moderna vaccine delays as the pharmaceutical giant faced production issues. Last month, Moderna slashed to 650,000 the 1.2 million doses that had been expected by the end of April. In February, Moderna sent 180,000 doses instead of the expected 230,400.
Procurement minister Anita Anand said Canada was in talks with Moderna “to solidify a more regular schedule moving forward.”
To date, more than 16.8 million COVID-19 doses have been distributed throughout the country’s provinces and territories. As Canada ramps up its vaccination campaign, the country is set to receive up to 36 million doses of the mRNA vaccines within the next two months, including 24.2 million Pfizer vaccine doses and between 10 and 12 million from Moderna.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada is making progress nationally, “but there are still a few tricky spots.”
She said the number of people experiencing critical or severe illness is high, adding that the country’s decline in national case counts has slowed to less than a two per cent decrease over the past week, with an average of 7,900 cases reported daily.
Over the past week, Tam said an average of almost 4,300 people were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day, including more than 1,450 people being treated in intensive care units. At the same time, she noted an average of 47 deaths were reported daily.
The news comes as many struggle to make sense of the latest health advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
The committee set off a firestorm of fear and anger Monday after saying mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are “preferred” because viral-vector vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson carry a small risk of blood clots.
NACI’s advice differs greatly from that of federal officials, who have been recommending Canadians take whichever vaccine is first offered to them.
Not directly mentioning NACI, Trudeau doubled down on the previous vaccine guidelines touted by public health officials.
“Remember – all vaccines in Canada have been approved by Health Canada,” he said.
“Our advice to provinces and territories – and to Canadians – has not changed.”
Speaking during question period in the House of Commons later, Trudeau said the “most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you.”
Tam said she sympathized with Canadians who may be frustrated or find it difficult to follow seemingly conflicting health advice, but she said recommendations change as science evolves. She said there are different risk-benefit conclusions based on individual and community situations, but that people should be “confident” in the country’s public health system.
“We all have to understand that everyone is trying to provide the best information in order for everyone to make the decision,” she said.
“But again, I’ll reiterate from our chief medical officers that the AstraZeneca vaccine deployed in the middle of a third wave has saved lives and prevented serious illnesses.”
— With files from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore and the Canadian Press