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Pfizer and Moderna face crunch to meet March vaccine delivery deadlines

Manufacturers will need to deliver 3m doses in last few weeks of March to meet obligations
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COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are facing an increasingly shrinking window to meet their initial guaranteed delivery dates to Canada.

Canada has so far distributed a combined total of 1.4 million vaccine doses from Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc., while 6 million are due to arrive by the end of March.

Pfizer is expected to deliver 1,767,000 doses between February 22 and the first two weeks of March, according to new estimates from Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Deliveries of 404,000 doses are due next week, followed by 475,000 doses the last week of February and 444,000 doses weekly for the first two weeks of March.

“We’re on the right trajectory,” he said during a Thursday briefing in Ottawa.

The manufacturer has guaranteed it will deliver a total of 4 million doses by the end of March. But with 1.3 million Pfizer doses delivered so far and just over 1.7 million due by mid-March, that leaves a gap of about 1 million doses that would need to arrive within the last three weeks of next month.

Fortin said production will be ramping up soon and he still expects all the doses to arrive in time.

But the new estimates from Pfizer also reflect Health Canada’s approval this week to allow health workers to extract six doses per vial rather than the previously agreed-upon five doses.
Immunizers will need to use specialized syringes to extract the extra dose from each vial.

Meanwhile, Fortin confirmed Moderna will deliver 180,000 doses for the last week of February.
Fortin said PHAC will update its official data on Friday but he estimated Moderna has delivered just over 500,000 doses to date.

Combined with the upcoming delivery of 180,000 doses, that leaves Moderna just a few weeks to deliver about 1.3 million doses.

Fortin was insistent throughout the briefing he has no reason to believe the two manufacturers will not be able to deliver the remaining doses — more than 2 million — due in the final weeks of March.

torton@biv.com

@reporton