Federal officials to deliver more details about COVID-19 vaccines rollout

Government officials will be providing more details about Canada’s mass inoculation program later today, following news the country could receive tens of thousands of more doses by month’s end.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccination logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Dr. Tom Wong, the chief medical health officer at Indigenous Services, will hold a technical briefing on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines at 12 p.m. ET from Ottawa. CBC News will carry it live.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would receive up to 168,000 doses of the two-dose Moderna vaccine before the end of December, pending approval.

He said deliveries are slated to begin within 48 hours of Health Canada’s authorization.

This is the second vaccine candidate to be approved in Canada. Last week, Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is already being administered in parts of the country. 

However, its strict temperature requirements for storage mean the shot isn’t the best fit for much of the country, including northern, rural and remote communities.

The Moderna product must be kept at -20 C — many degrees above the -70 to -80 C range that Pfizer demands for its shot — and there are more commercial-grade refrigerators on hand across the country that can store the Moderna vaccine.

Because the territories will not receive the Pfizer vaccine — and because the Moderna vaccine is easier to ship over long distances in winter conditions — Trudeau said those first doses will be directed to northern regions, remote and Indigenous communities.

In August, Canada placed an order for 20 million doses of the Moderna product. Earlier this month, Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced the government would exercise its contractual option for 20 million more shots in 2021. Canada could still buy up to another 16 million doses.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hear Thursday from an outside advisory panel on whether the Moderna vaccine is safe for use in the United States. FDA’s own scientists today endorsed it as safe and effective.

WATCH: 168,000 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could be in Canada by end of month:

Moderna could ship up to 168,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year once it’s approved by Health Canada, which is believed to be close. The prime minister said Moderna could ship vaccines within 48 hours of approval. 1:56

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