Pfizer, Moderna executives expect vaccine shipments to triple in weeks ahead

By Lucas Casaletto

Executives with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna said they’re ramping up their supply of COVID-19 vaccines, with shipments expected to double and potentially triple in the coming weeks.

This week Canada is receiving its biggest combined shipment yet of vaccines from both distributors.

On Monday, John Young, Pfizer’s chief business officer, told Congress the company plans to increase its delivery capacity to more than 13 million per-week by mid-March.

Young credited manufacturing investments and improvements as the reason behind his assurance that production will ramp up.

Currently, Pfizer generates and distributes roughly 4-to-5-million doses per week.

Moderna President Dr. Stephen Hoge meanwhile said he expects to double its monthly delivery capacity to 40-million doses by April.

“We do believe we’re on track,” Hoge said, outlining ways the company has ramped up production.

“We think we’re at a very good spot.”

With Pfizer and Moderna committing to an increase in supply, Canada is expected to receive a combined six million doses by the end of March.

Asked pointedly if they face shortages of raw materials, equipment, or funding that would throw off those schedules, all of the manufacturers expressed confidence that they had enough supplies and had already addressed some of the early bottlenecks in production.

“At this point, I can confirm we are not seeing any shortages of raw materials,” said Pfizer’s Young.

On Tuesday, Canada’s Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand updated the country’s vaccine supply.

“This week, we are receiving a total of 643,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – the largest shipment to date,” said Anand. “The majority of which have already been delivered.”

Anand says vaccine deliveries are starting to ramp up significantly, with 3.5-million doses expected to arrive in March.

RELATED: Canada to ramp up vaccine delivery with 600-thousand doses expected this week

Health Canada continues to discuss AstraZeneca’s vaccine as a third treatment option. It was reported recently that officials are not yet ready to approve the vaccine, though a decision could come soon.

The World Health Organization (WHO) gave its seal of approval to AstraZeneca in early February, and if Health Canada follows suit, almost 500,000 doses could be shipped to Canada in March through the global vaccine-sharing program known as COVAX.

Canada’s top public health official, meanwhile, says the priority vaccination of long-term care residents and front-line health-care workers is already having a positive effect.

Dr. Theresa Tam made the announcement during a virtual news conference today.

“Recently, we have seen some very encouraging early reports of high vaccine effectiveness among long-term care residents and healthcare workers in Canada,” said Tam.

“This gives us hope that those at the highest risk of outcomes and exposure are benefiting from priority vaccination.”

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout could look different in each of its 34 public health units as the province receives more doses in the coming weeks.

Jones said the Ford government is “empowering” local health units to draw up their own specific plans to distribute the vaccine, and all have been submitted to the government for approval.

Vaccines will be distributed to health units based on population, Jones said, and while they must follow the province’s plan to vaccinate priority populations first, they can also determine the best way to serve the needs of their communities.

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

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