OTTAWA — A batch of more than 855,000 doses of vaccine from Moderna is now on route to Canada, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Monday afternoon.
The delivery of 855,600 doses was first scheduled for last week, but was delayed because of an ongoing backlog in quality assurance checks at the drugmakers production lines in Europe.
Anand said Monday the doses were picked up by FedEx in Europe Monday, and will arrive in Toronto Tuesday. Innomar Strategies, the company contracted to handle all vaccine distributions except for Pfizer-BioNTech, will receive them, and turn them around for redistribution to provinces and territories.
"The provinces will receive the Moderna deliveries this week," Anand said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
A shipment of about one million Pfizer doses was to arrive Monday, for a total of 1.9 million new doses this week.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military officer overseeing the federal government’s vaccination distribution effort, said last week there could be a similar delay in the delivery of 1.2 million doses from Moderna next week.
“It’s prudent planning on our part right now to bank on the last week of April,” Fortin said last Thursday.
In comparison, Pfizer-BioNTech has been consistently delivering more than 1 million shots to Canada each week for more than a month, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The Public Health Agency is not expecting any shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this week. Canada has also approved a vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson, but it is not clear when the first of those doses will be delivered.
The rush to get vaccines into Canadians' arms has grown more urgent as Canada continues to see a massive spike in the number of new COVID-19 infections.
Thousands of new cases were reported on Sunday, including a record 4,456 in Ontario alone. Dr. Theresa Tam, the country's chief public health officer, noted admissions to intensive care units surged 23 per cent last week compared to the one before and said the Canada is approaching the peak of the current pandemic wave.
Tam said many of those getting sick are younger than in previous COVID-19 surges, which experts have blamed on virus variants that are spreading across the country.
That has prompted some provinces to start looking at changes to how they are distributing their vaccines.
More than 10 million doses had been distributed across Canada as of Sunday afternoon, according to covid19tracker.ca, with nearly 8 million having been administered.
Almost 20 per cent of the population has received at least one shot.
— With files from Mia Rabson.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2021.
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is corrected story. A previous version said Canada was only expecting one million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine to be delivered this week.