(photo via Moderna Facebook)

The federal government announced on Tuesday that it has contracted with Moderna to receive up to 168,000 doses of vaccine by December 31st.

Prime Minister Trudeau says that the first shipments are part of a guaranteed 40 million doses Canada has secured from the U.S. pharmaceutical company.

“Like the co-founder of Moderna pointed out a few weeks ago, Canada was among the very first to pre-order their vaccine,” Trudeau said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

“That, combined with our solid plan for vaccine rollout, is why we have an agreement for early doses.”

The Moderna vaccine is still making its way through Health Canada’s regulatory approval process. Trudeau says that deliveries could begin within 48 hours of approval.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which has already begun distribution across Canada, the Moderna vaccine does not have to be stored at extremely low temperatures.

The government says this makes Moderna an ideal candidate for shipments to more remote areas, including indigenous communities and Canada’s north.

As such, the first round of Moderna doses will be sent to these areas specifically.

Meanwhile, Trudeau says 200,000 more doses of the Pfizer vaccine are due to arrive next week and will be distributed across 70 sites all over Canada, up from 14 sites.

The prime minister also announced that the federal government is providing $6.7 million to Arch Biopartners, a Canadian company working on a drug to treat severe cases of COVID-19.

Arch Biopartners “Metablok” drug is being created to prevent organ inflammation and injury in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

While vaccines begin rolling out nationwide, Prime Minister Trudeau stressed that Canadians need to remain vigilant and abide by lockdown restrictions.

“Do the things you know that are going to help us get through this long winter,” he said.

“Vaccines are coming, vaccines are already here, but we need to make it through this winter in the best possible situation without seeing more tragedies, without seeing more losses.”

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