Vaccines are on the way, despite delays and possible European export controls: Trudeau

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says despite the ongoing production delays with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against COVID-19, and possible export controls from the European Union, Canada remains on track to get six million doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of March.

And during a news conference outside his home at Rideau Hall Tuesday, he once again assured Canadians that everyone who wants a COVID shot will get one by September.

The two vaccines that have been currently approved by Health Canada, by Pfizer and Moderna, are manufactured in Europe, and the European Union is now warning drugmakers it might impose export controls on those vaccine doses made there. 

But Trudeau says he's received assurances by officials at both companies that all the vaccine doses that Canada has signed contracts for will be delivered on schedule.

"I can tell you that as of Feb. 15, we will be back in the hundreds of thousands of Pfizer doses every single week," he said. "In my conversation last week with the top folks at Pfizer, they assured me we're still very much on track to receive all the promised doses by the end of March.

He received similar assurances Tuesday morning in a phone call with the CEO of Moderna.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video statement posted to Twitter Tuesday that Europe will set up a "vaccine export transparency mechanism'' so Europe knows exactly how many doses are being produced in the world's largest trading bloc and where they are being shipped.

"Europe invested billions to help develop the world`s first COVID-19 vaccines to create a truly global common good,'' she said. "And now the companies must deliver.''

Europe — like Canada — is being shorted on deliveries from Pfizer as the company slows production to expand its plant in Belgium. Canada is getting no deliveries at all from Pfizer this week, and only one-quarter of the previously promised delivery next week.

AstraZeneca, whose vaccine is on tap to be approved in Europe later this week, has also now informed Europe production issues will reduce initial deliveries.

More travel restrictions on the way

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning Canadians to expect more travel restrictions in the near future.

At his briefing Tuesday, Trudeau reiterated federal public health guidance to avoid all non-essential travel, both abroad and in between provinces.

Trudeau said in French that the constantly evolving news of COVID-19 variants from other countries has spurred the government to look at improving the measures already implemented – and that an announcement would come very soon.

The prime minister also reiterated his previous statements on upcoming travel, telling Canadians to cancel any plans they may have booked, and that while the number of cases linked to traveling abroad are low, “one case is too many.”

Trudeau said the “bad choices of a few” should not be allowed to put others at risk.

CJAD 800's Richard Deschamps contributed to this report.

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