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Shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Canada one day after approval

moderna shipment arrives

The first shipment carrying doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Canada.

The shipment contains a portion of the 168,000 doses expected to arrive before the end of the year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, along with a photo of a FedEx plane being unloaded.

The plane touched down Thursday at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport — just over 24 hours after Health Canada authorized the vaccine for use in people over the age of 18

“This is another big step in our national vaccine rollout,” Trudeau said. “But it doesn’t mean we can let up just yet. The vaccine won’t help you if you get sick now.”

Doses will now be repackaged into smaller amounts by logistics company Innomar and distributed to the provinces and territories next week.

The arrival of Moderna’s vaccine clears the way for vaccinations to begin in northern, remote and Indigenous communities because it is much easier to ship and store than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — the only other vaccine currently approved for use in Canada. 

Those communities haven’t begun vaccinations yet because they lack the health infrastructure necessary to safely store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine must be stored at -70 C to remain stable while Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at regular freezer temperatures. 

Procurement Minister Anita Anand tweeted that these doses would be the first deployed to Canada’s North.

Doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to arrive in the territories by Dec. 28, the military commander leading vaccination logistics, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, said Wednesday. 

Trudeau said Wednesday that Canada is on track to receive 1.2 million doses of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna by the end of January 2021.

Canada has secured contracts with Pfizer-BioNTech for access to 20 million doses and with Moderna for 40 million doses, and expects to be able to vaccinate everyone living in Canada by September 2021.

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