Canada has announced an agreement to receive early deliveries of the Moderna Inc COVID-19 vaccine amid a surge of new cases forcing restrictions across the country.
The country was now contracted to receive up to 168,000 Moderna doses before the end of December, pending Health Canada approval, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news conference on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Canada brought forward some deliveries of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which received regulatory approval last week.
Before these agreements, the first deliveries had been expected early next year. The first Pfizer vaccinations took place on Monday.
“We have now confirmed that next week we will receive about 200,000 of our total early order of doses from Pfizer,” Trudeau added.
Moderna’s vaccine is under review by Canada’s drug regulator and Trudeau said its approval could come as early as next week.
British Columbia administered its first injection to a healthcare worker on Tuesday and both Alberta and Saskatchewan were poised to begin vaccinations later in the day.
Some 100 frontline healthcare workers were due to get shots in Ottawa, the capital, by the end of the day.
Several provinces have clamped down again on businesses and social gatherings amid the second wave and Quebec – the hardest hit province – announced new health restrictions on Tuesday.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault said non-essential retail businesses would have to close from December 25 to January 1 and office employees must work from home starting on Thursday.
“Some hospitals are at their limit,” Legault said.
Canada has so far reported 468,862 cases, with 6731 new ones on Monday and 13,553 deaths.
Health officials warned last week that the country could see 12,000 new cases per day by January without new restrictions.
By the end of March, Canada expects to have received 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 2 million of the Moderna shots. The country’s population is about 38 million.
Australian Associated Press