The latest supply agreement marks the first time Canada will be procuring Moderna vaccines from the U.S. — all 6.1 million doses delivered to Canada from Moderna have so far come from the vaccine developer’s production lines in Europe.
“We continue to work with the company to stabilize its deliveries with Canada and that work is paying off,” Anand told reporters.
Shipments of those seven million doses are slated to start next week, Anand said, adding that “more specifics concerning shipment dates and quantities” are to come.
Anand said they are expected to arrive in “two or three shipments” by the end of the month, but will be subject to Health Canada approval because they’re being shipped from a U.S. supplier.
The deliveries bring the total number of doses expected by the second quarter to 11.2 million, in the range of the 10.3 to 12.3 million doses Moderna had previously promised.
Until Wednesday, Moderna had confirmed just 1.5 million doses to be shipped next week, but that shipment could be delayed or adjusted as the company shifts its Canadian supply to the U.S.
The pharmaceutical giant said Canada’s Moderna shipments could be slashed by one-sixth on Friday, citing production delays at its European facility.
But with millions of COVID-19 vaccines scheduled to arrive before the end of June and into the summer months, Anand said Canada should have at least 55 million doses by the end of July — enough to fully vaccinate around 80 per cent of eligible Canadians.
“To be clear, that is the minimum number of doses that we anticipate receiving in that timeframe,” Anand noted, adding that the federal government is “continuing to press suppliers to accelerate doses.”
Almost 70 per cent of Canadians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose so far, helping drive cases of the virus down.
Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the country’s seven-day average for new cases for this week had fallen below 1,800 for the first time since the fall, while daily hospitalizations had dropped more than 55 per cent to under 2,000 per day.
Tam added the number of people dying from COVID-19 in Canada has declined by roughly 40 per cent, with an average of 32 deaths reported daily.
However, she urged those who have only received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to remain vigilant, especially with rise of the Delta variant.
“One dose of protection is not enough,” Tam said.
“Based on estimates before the Delta variant was circulating, an estimated one-third of people can still get infected after just the priming dose and an estimated 20 per cent can develop serious illness.”
But Tam warned those estimates “may be different with the Delta variant or other future variants,” adding that the federal government was working towards getting close to 75 per cent of Canadians fully vaccinated before the country would consider advising loosening travel restrictions.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Canada will be taking a “phased approach” towards adjusting border measures.
“What is currently being considered as the first step in this approach is to allow fully vaccinated individuals currently permitted to enter Canada to do so without the requirement to stay in government-authorized accommodations,” she said.
However, travellers would have to be fully vaccinated 14 days or more prior to their arrival, and they will still be required to have a negative pre-departure PCR test result, as well as be required to be tested on upon arrival with a suitable quarantine plan to wait for their test results.
“We’ll be watching carefully here in Canada and around the world as cases change and as vaccination rates rise,” she said.
— with files from The Canadian Press