Health

Moderna to supply 12M doses of Omicron-targeted COVID shot to Canada

Moderna says it will supply Canada with 12 million doses of its COVID-19 bivalent vaccine.

Decision on Moderna's bivalent vaccine expected in next two weeks

A vial of vaccine.
Moderna says it will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Canada. (Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press)

Moderna will supply 12 million doses of its COVID-19 shot adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus to Canada, the company said on Monday.

The federal government had entered into a deal with the company last year for supply of its COVID-19 vaccine for 2022 and 2023, with the contract allowing access to new vaccine adaptations, company officials said.

Moderna and the Canadian government have agreed to convert six million doses of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, which targets the original virus, to an Omicron-containing bivalent vaccine.

Canada will also purchase an additional 4.5 million doses of the Omicron-containing candidate, and is moving forward the scheduled delivery of 1.5 million doses of the bivalent vaccine candidate from 2023 to 2022.

Health Canada reviewing vaccine submissions

Canada's chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Friday that Health Canada staff is working "very fast" to review bivalent vaccine submissions from both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. 

A Health Canada spokesperson said Monday that a decision on Moderna's bivalent vaccine is expected within the next two weeks.

"We also have secure, sufficient supply of the bivalent formulation should the regulatory authorities go on to authorize the vaccines," Tam said, adding that officials are looking at whether the bivalent vaccine would have an "added benefit." 

The exact timing of the availability of the vaccines to the public will depend on a number of factors, including supply and rollout by local health authorities.

Health Canada has also reached out to both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to file submissions for vaccines that target Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. 

While existing COVID-19 vaccines continue to provide protection against hospitalization and death, vaccine effectiveness has taken a hit as the virus has evolved.

Moderna in June said trial data showed that when given as a fourth dose, the variant-adapted shot raised virus-neutralizing antibodies by eight-fold against Omicron.

Tam said based on the information submitted by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the bivalent vaccines would protect against the original strain and the BA.1 strain. 

Last week, British drug regulators were the first in the world to authorize an updated version of Moderna's bivalent vaccine.

With files from Lauren Pelley

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