September 10, 2020 / 7:45 PM / 20 days ago

COVID-19 vaccine doses could arrive in Canada early in 2021: minister

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada February 27, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada is “aggressively negotiating” with drugmakers on delivery schedules for potential COVID-19 vaccines and shipments would begin early in 2021 under existing deals, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement told Reuters on Thursday.

The Canadian government has announced four vaccine purchase deals and is negotiating more, while also funding local projects that are less advanced, and building new vaccine manufacturing capacity at a facility in Montreal.

The exact timing of deliveries depends on the result of clinical trials, regulatory approvals and manufacturing capacity, the minister, Anita Anand, said. Should approvals come earlier than expected, the government will negotiate earlier deliveries, she added.

“Make no mistake, suppliers are reserving manufacturing capacity to supply doses to Canada based on those aggressively negotiated delivery schedules,” Anand said in a phone interview.

Canada has agreements with vaccine makers Moderna Inc, Pfizer Inc, Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson. Anand did not say which company was scheduled to deliver first, but the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates are among the most advanced.

Late stage trials from Pfizer and Moderna involving about 30,000 subjects each are on track to be fully enrolled soon. Pfizer has said that a first analysis of their data could be available as soon as October.

Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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