Moverta will send far fewer COVID-19 displays to Canada this month than originally planned, as the company is stuck with production problems at its facilities in Europe.
But its main rival, Pfizer – which produces the most effective MRNA vaccine against the corona virus novel – says it will send millions more doses to Canada in May, June and beyond, to make up for the lack of modernization.
The Massachusetts-based Moderna was set to ship another 1.2 million doses to Canada this month, but that ship has been reduced to just 650,000 shots.
With those vaccines coming up next week, reduced exports are now not expected until later this month – probably the first week of May.
Although Canada expects to receive 12.3 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, the company has now told officials that it will be one to two million shots above that target. The distribution of those quantities will be pushed to the period from July to September.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that while delays in modern exports were disappointing, Canada had already signed up to eight million vaccine doses with Pfizer.
Trudeau said Canada would receive another four million Pfizer volumes in May, another two million in June and two million in July.
That means Canada’s immunization campaign will reach two million doses per week of Pfizer production in May and 2.5 million shots per week in June – the worst needed when the country catches up with a third wave of cases where vaccine stocks are badly needed.
“I want to thank everyone at Pfizer for their cooperation and hard work, not only to keep supplies on schedule, but to move higher volumes and reach new contracts,” Trudeau said.
Watch: Trudeau on changes in vaccine distribution schedules
In the second quarter of this year alone, Canada now expects to produce 23.8 million doses of Pfizer, up from the expected 17.8 million.
Even with Moderna disruptions – which could deliver two million shots later – Canada will receive at least 4 million more shots than expected in May and June, thanks to the Pfizer deal.
The country expects to receive 48 to 50 million doses from all vaccine suppliers in the first six months of this year.
Modern delays are said to be “slower than expected in their production capacity” at factories in Europe, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.
“We are disappointed that while we understand the challenges facing suppliers in the current global market for vaccines, our government will continue to put pressure on Moderna to fulfill its obligations,” Anand said.
“Remember, a year ago there were no vaccines for COVID-19. There were no supply chains and no production methods.”
“When Moderna provides additional information, we will share it as soon as it is available. We continue to press Moderna for consistency in providing to Canada,” Anand said.
The 855,000 doses of the Moderna product due in the week of April 5 have only begun to show over the past few days, disrupting scheduled immunization clinics in some provinces.
Anand said Johnson & Johnson had confirmed that the first shipment of its one-dose virus vector shot would arrive by the end of the month.
The U.S.-based pharmaceutical company will ship 300,000 doses to Canada in the week of April 27, he said, adding that “there will be more substantial deliveries later this quarter and this summer.”
In a statement, Modernna’s spokesman said it would “make changes” to the number of shots it would send to Canada and a few other countries in the coming weeks.
“The path of the vaccine production curve is not straightforward, and despite best efforts, there is a shortage of previously estimated quantities from the European supply chain. Vaccine production is a very complex process and many factors, including human and material resources, are responsible for this instability,” the spokesman said.
The company said it would make “substantial capital investments” to improve production and explore “other possible collaboration opportunities” thereby creating more scenarios to meet global demand for its highly effective product.
Prior to the success of COVID-19, Moderna had no experience in mass production of such products. It is partnering with Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Lonza to develop its vaccine. The company has contracted with other US companies to launch its MRNA vaccine in the US market.