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Truckers to haul 1.5m AstraZeneca doses to Canada by Tuesday amid Moderna delays

Canada due to accept 3.2m doses of COVID-19 vaccine from three manufacturers next week
covid-19-border-truck
The Canadian Trucking Association hands out meals to drivers as they pass through the Nordel Inspection Station in Delta in April 2020.

Fleets of trucks are due to deliver 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca plc COVID-19 vaccine to Canada by Tuesday amid ongoing shipping delays from competing manufacturer Moderna Inc.

Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand confirmed the exact arrival date of the AstraZeneca doses Friday following uncertainty just a day earlier.

“We are now seeing that supply surge and it is set to continue,” she said during a virtual briefing, referring to next week’s 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca and the one million doses of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine due to arrive weekly until the end of May.

Despite the impending deliveries of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, Moderna’s 590,000 doses due to arrive this weekend are facing a delay of “a few days” that Anand said is related to quality assurance issues.

The minister said those delays are not related to the prospect of the EU imposing import restrictions.

“I specifically raised the issue relating to the EU with the supplier yesterday and Moderna confirmed that the delay of a few days is not related to EU restrictions,” she said.

Although Moderna has manufacturing capacity in Massachusetts, Canada’s supply originates from the company’s facilities in non-EU member Switzerland.

From there, vaccine is sent to Spain for filling and then to Belgium for warehousing and distribution.

The Moderna doses are expected to arrive by April 1 and will be followed the week of April 5 with a delivery of 855,000 doses.

Next week the country will be accepting 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses, 1.2 million Pfizer doses and 590,000 Moderna doses for a total of 3.2 million vaccine doses. That's more than half of the 5.9 million doses the country has received since December.

Federal officials had confirmed Thursday 1.5 million AstraZeneca plc doses are due to arrive next week from the U.S. but no specific date was set.

American regulators have not yet approved the vaccine for use in their country, however, Health Canada gave the nod to AstraZeneca last month and has been accepting deliveries from the Serum Institute of India the past few weeks.

The 1.5 million doses from the Americans are considered to be a loan and Canada will eventually need to direct an equal number of doses to the U.S. from its order of 20 million doses from AstraZeneca.

torton@biv.com

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