Officials say the Moderna vaccine will be distributed to remote and isolated communities in northern Canada.
Canada received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna Inc, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, as the country urged people to limit their contact during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Trudeau said the first shipment of Moderna vaccine is one of 168,000 doses Canada expects to receive before the end of December.
“This is part of the 168,000 doses that we will receive before the end of the month, and part of the 40 million doses that Moderna guarantees us as a whole,” he tweeted.
Health Canada Wednesday approved Moderna vaccine for use in Canada, claiming it met the agency’s “stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements”.
The first doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Canada. These are among the 168,000 doses that we will receive before the end of the month and the 40 million doses that Moderna guarantees us globally. pic.twitter.com/eKhQ6v8xSA
– Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 24, 2020
Canada is second country to approve Moderna vaccine, after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 18 approved for emergency use.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is the second approved in Canada after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is already being administered to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care homes in several provinces.
Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine should not be stored in ultra-low freezing temperatures, and Canadian officials have said they plan to send it to more remote areas of the country.
“The different storage and handling requirements for Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mean it can be distributed to isolated and remote communities, including the territories,” Health Canada said this week.
Anita Anand, Canada’s Minister of Utilities and Procurement, tweeted Thursday that the first Moderna shipment “will be the first # COVID19 vaccine deployed in Canada’s North.”
1 / Just one day after Health Canada approval, I am happy to be on site as the Moderna vaccine arrives in ??! This is the first shipment of a total of 40 million doses that our government has purchased from Moderna and will be the first # COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE vaccine deployed in Canada’s North. pic.twitter.com/b1TR9mFbXG
– Anita Anand (@AnitaOakville) December 24, 2020
The Minister of Health and Social Services of the Yukon, one of Canada’s northern territories, said in a statement Wednesday that approval of the Moderna vaccine was “exciting news that Yukoners have been waiting for.”
Pauline Frost said the Yukon expects to receive an initial shipment of 7,200 doses of the vaccine to inoculate 3,600 people with two injections. Thursday morning, the territory had no active case of COVID-19.
“The Yukon will receive enough doses to immunize 75% of the eligible adult population by early 2021,” said Frost, adding that residents and long-term care staff would receive the vaccine first.
Canada is grappling with a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the country.
On Thursday, Ontario’s most populous province, Ontario, reported 2,447 new COVID-19 infections – its highest one-day toll since the start of the pandemic – and 49 more deaths from the new coronavirus.
Health officials in neighboring Quebec also reported a single-day high with 2,349 new cases, as well as 46 additional deaths.
The governments of Quebec and Ontario are preparing to put new restrictions in place in the coming days as part of their efforts to stem the spread of the virus.