British Columbia’s initial shipment of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will be used to inoculate workers in vulnerable sectors including food processing plants, farms and greenhouses as well as industries requiring employees to live in congregate settings, health officials announced Monday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said the vaccine is being allocated to industries where barriers and full use of personal protective equipment can be challenging and where outbreaks and clusters are ongoing.
“Immunizing workers in these settings will not only protect workers, it will also protect the communities around them, including many rural, remote and Indigenous communities,” Henry and Dix said in a joint statement.
The highest-risk categories of work sites were identified through a task force established by the provincial health officer last November.
They include sites where poultry, fruit and fish are processed as well as agricultural operations and large industrial camps where close living quarters make isolation and quarantine difficult, contributing to outbreaks.
Henry and Dix said the B.C. Immunization Committee is reviewing the latest data and recommendations from its federal counterpart to determine additional workplaces that will be prioritized for immunization with the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.
The effort to inoculate vulnerable workers complements the province’s age-based vaccination plan, which is one week ahead of schedule, with seniors aged 84 and older, plus Indigenous elders 65 and up, currently booking appointments for a shot.
The Health Ministry said people aged 83 and older can make an appointment Tuesday and the age eligibility drops daily until anyone 80 and up can make arrangements for a COVID-19 jab by the end of the week.
Added staff at call centres across B.C. have helped speed up the process and the province says the centres are open from 7 a.m. PT to 7 p.m. daily.
An estimated 100,000 people are included in the 80- to 84-year-old group and phone appointments are the only way to make a booking in all regions except Fraser Health.
Health Minister Adrian Dix has said a province-wide online system is expected within weeks.
Monday also marks the launch of vaccination clinics across B.C. for seniors over 90 and Indigenous elders who already have appointments.
Clinics also begin in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, where all adults are being immunized, regardless of age, due to stubbornly high infection rates in that North Coast region.
At last count on Friday, B.C. had reported just under 87,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and had administered almost 381,000 doses of vaccine.
COVID cases in Ontario could spike to 30,000 per day by June
TORONTO (Reuters) – New cases of COVID-19 in Canada‘s most populous province could rise more than six fold, topping 30,000 per day by early June if public health measures are weak and vaccination rates remain flat, a panel of experts advising the province of Ontario said on Friday.
Even if measures to control the virus are “moderate,” the number of patients in Ontario ICUs could reach 2,000 in May, up from 695 on Friday.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last week they may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive intensive care.
(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese)
Moderna sees shortfall in Britain COVID vaccine shipments, EU deliveries on track
ZURICH (Reuters) – U.S. drugmaker Moderna expects a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain hitting second-quarter delivery quantities for Britain and Canada, though European Union– and Swiss-bound shipments are on track, a spokesperson said.
The delays, first announced on Friday when Canada said Moderna would be delivering only about half the planned 1.2 million doses by the end of April, come as Switzerland’s Lonza ramps up three new production lines to make active ingredients for Moderna vaccine supplies outside of the United States.
“The trajectory of vaccine manufacturing ramp-up is not linear, and despite best efforts, there is a shortfall in previously estimated doses from the European supply chain,” Moderna said in a statement.
Lonza didn’t immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment on any issues in its production.
(Reporting by John Miller; editing by David Evans)
Moderna says vaccines to Canada to be delayed due to Europe shortfall
(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday a shortfall in COVID-19 vaccine doses from its European supply chain will lead to a delay in deliveries to some countries including Canada.
She said one to two million doses of the 12.3 million doses scheduled for delivery by Moderna in the second quarter would be delayed until the third.
Moderna officials in Europe did not immediately comment on the reason for the delays or give the total number of countries that would be impacted.
“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.
Canada has distributed a total of 2.82 million doses of the Moderna vaccine as of April 14 and 12.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total.
Moderna has been aiming to deliver 700 million to 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 globally this year, including from plants in Europe and the United States.
Swiss contract drug manufacturer Lonza makes active ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine in Visp, but it was still ramping up three new production lines that once operational would be able to produce 300 million shots annually.
The current supply, demand and distribution landscape has led the drugmaker to make adjustments in the expected second-quarter deliveries, Gauthier said.
(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru, Allison Martell in Toronto and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Arun Koyyur)