Medicine Hat News
Health Canada has final data needed from Moderna to make a decision on vaccine
Health Canada says it will “soon” be ready to announce if it can authorize a second COVID-19 vaccine after receiving final documents from U.S. biotech firm Moderna over the weekend.
Moderna’s new Canadian general manager — hired just three weeks ago to establish a Canadian office for the company — said Moderna’s team and Health Canada are in constant communication.
“Everybody worked really diligently all weekend,” Patricia Gauthier told The Canadian Press in an interview Monday.
She said the process is following the required course and “we’re hoping for a decision when Health Canada is ready.”
Eric Morrissette, a spokesman for Health Canada, said the documents are being reviewed as fast as possible.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization for the Moderna vaccine late last week, becoming the first country to approve it. The COVID-19 vaccine is also the first Moderna product ever authorized for use.
The company was established about a decade ago specifically to work on messenger RNA technology, or mRNA.
The final documents Health Canada needed included data on manufacturing. The Canadian doses of Moderna’s vaccine are being made in Switzerland and sent to Spain for the “fill and finish” process, where six doses will be filled into each vial and the vials packed into freezers for shipping.
As many as 110,000 doses can be transported on a single pallet. Moderna intends to start shipping its vaccine to Canada within 48 hours of approval, with as many as 168,000 doses anticipated before the end of December and two million by the end of March.
Health Canada initially contracted to buy 20 million doses from Moderna, but exercised an option to buy 20 million more earlier this month, for a total of 40 million.
Gauthier said that is enough to vaccinate two-thirds of the Canadian adult population, and that there are still 16 million doses remaining for Canada to potentially buy as part of the contract. Sources not authorized to speak on the matter tell The Canadian Press a decision on whether to buy those extra doses will likely be announced this week.