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Coronavirus: Moderna expects vaccine shipments to Britain, Canada to be delayed, EU, Swiss roll-out on track

Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine labels

Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in Covid-19 vaccine doses from its European suppliers will delay deliveries to countries including Canada and Britain, but shipments to the European Union and Switzerland are on track.

The drugmaker will deliver about 650,000 doses by the end of April, not the expected 1.2 million, Canada’s Procurement Minister Anita Anand said.

Moreover, one million to two million Moderna doses of the 12.3 million doses slated for the second quarter would be delayed until the third.

These delivery woes further complicate European vaccine issues already being exacerbated by rare side effects linked to AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines, with Britain advising pregnant women now to get Moderna or Pfizer shots.

Moderna officials pegged issues on ramp-up of its vaccine manufacturing supply chain, which includes drug contract manufacturer Lonza. The Swiss company is under pressure to begin operations at three new facilities where it makes active ingredients for Moderna’s mRNA vaccine.

“Vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex process and a number of elements, including human and material resources have factored into this volatility,” said Patricia Gauthier, an executive at Moderna Canada.

A Moderna spokeswoman in Europe said EU and Swiss deliveries in Q2 were still expected to come in within expected ranges, without giving the ranges.

Lonza, which also makes Moderna ingredients for U.S. use in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, did not respond to requests for comments on hold-ups at its production lines in Switzerland.

“CRUISING SPEED”

Lonza Chief Executive Pierre-Alain Ruffieux has said it could take months before his plants reach “cruising speed”.

With Lonza under pressure, Moderna this week enlisted Spain’s Rovi, another contract drugmaker that is already bottling Moderna’s vaccine, to build new ingredient production facilities in Granada to lift European output.

Bottling, also called “fill-and-finish”, remains on track at Rovi, as well as a soon-to-be-running French line at Sweden’s Recipharm.

Canada has distributed 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.

Moderna aims to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine globally this year, and more than 2 billion doses next year.

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