Canada is doubling its direct monetary commitment to help buy COVID-19 vaccines for a global sharing program known as COVAX — but is not sending any actual doses this month, despite the desperate plea from officials for help.
Canada will donate another $220 million to help COVAX buy more vaccines to deliver them to the 92 low- and middle-income countries that rely on the facility to vaccinate their citizens, International Development Secretary Karina Gould said at a virtual COVAX summit on Wednesday.
This is in addition to $220 million committed last September to buy doses for low-income countries through the COVAX advance market commitment, $75 million to help deliver those doses and $30 million to reallocate COVAX from a separate pneumococcal vaccine program.
“These vaccines are our best exit strategy from this pandemic,” Gold said in a speech at the summit.
“But the world also needs access to it. Frontiers should not be barriers to the best and latest science.”
But the frontier has been a barrier, with rich nations accounting for more than 80 percent of the nearly two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines now administered worldwide.
Morally imbalance ‘unacceptable’: WHO leader
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has reiterated long-standing concerns that Western countries have vaccinated high percentages of their citizens, while health workers in places like Africa remain unprotected.
“Out of the 1.8 billion vaccines administered globally, only 0.4 percent were given in low-income countries,” he said. “This is morally, epidemiologically and economically unacceptable.”
Canada, which started slowly, has vaccinated more than 22 million people, with two-thirds of eligible people over the age of 12 receiving at least one dose.
This puts Canada in the top 10 for people who have been at least partially vaccinated. When second doses are also taken into account, Canada gave 64 doses per 100 people in the country, making it one of the top 20 countries in the world in terms of doses per capita.
More than two dozen countries, mostly in Africa, have given less than one dose per 100 people. COVAX has distributed 77 million doses to date and aims to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of the year.
The #covid19 The pandemic knows no borders and neither should vaccines.
But it said last week that its first goal in June would be to cut 190 million doses without immediate help from rich countries that are ahead of the world in the field of vaccinations. In a statement on May 27, COVAX leaders said the consequences of this shortage “could be catastrophic.”
The Serum Institute of India was to be one of the major suppliers of COVAX. But due to the massive third wave in India this spring, the country has banned the export of more doses for any reason until at least the end of the year.
“Countries with the largest supplies should redirect doses to COVAX now, to achieve maximum effect,” COVAX said.
No potions to spare yet: Gold
COVAX was looking for another $2 billion in donations and promised actual doses. I got the money but only a few extra promises of vaccine donations.
So far there are about 200 million doses on the table – half of them from the European Union – but it is not clear when they will be distributed.
Canada has 28 million doses delivered so far and expects at least 100 million by fall — far more than it needs to give two doses for every 38 million Canadians.
Present23:52Calls for donations to Canada’s supply of AstraZeneca doses to low-income countries
Gould was appointed in January as co-chair of the COVAX Share Group in an effort to establish a mechanism to allow dose donation; Some Canadian funding helped prove this. But Gould said Canada is not yet in a position to put actual doses on the table.
“We don’t have excess vaccines currently coming into Canada,” she said.
“At this point, we’re still very focused on our domestic schedule but I can assure you that when we have overdoses, we’ll make that announcement.”
Myopic liberals, say the NDP and the Greens
Government critics expressed dissatisfaction with this interpretation.
“Canada’s position has been hugely disappointing,” said NDP health critic Don Davies. “It is wrong from an ethical and ethical point of view and is inconsistent with our public health needs.”
The more spread of COVID-19, the greater the risks posed by worrying new variants – which may avoid the vaccines we now offer. Experts have said that vaccinating the world fairly is the only way to end the epidemic.
Green Party leader Annamy Paul said COVAX has been very clear about what it needs and that Canada is creating a sense of “false security” by focusing only on getting doses for Canadians at first.
COVAX is one of three arms of ACT Accelerator, a global program to make sure the entire world has access to COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last month that Canada would increase its overall support for the ACT accelerator by $375 million for a total of more than $1.3 billion. Today’s donation of $220 million to COVAX comes from the May pledge, which the international anti-poverty group Global Citizen said has put Canada among a small group of countries that donate an amount equal to the size of its economy.
Canada was among dozens of countries that pledged about $2.4 billion to the COVAX Vaccine Sharing Scheme.
Those pledges ranged from $2,500 from the island nation of Mauritius to millions of dollars and doses from larger and wealthier nations such as Australia, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was the official host of the summit, pledged $800 million, while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez pledged 15 million doses and $61 million.
“Only by leading by example will we be effective in calling for solidarity,” Sanchez said.
WATCHUS Pledges Vaccine Donation, But Few Details To Come:
US Vice President Kamala Harris cited the US contribution of $2 billion this year and $2 billion earmarked for next year, but she did not make any specific announcements about new US funding.
The United States plans to donate 80 million doses by the end of this month, but has not yet said whether they will pass through COVAX or directly to other countries.
COVAX recognized the contributions of corporations and charitable foundations. Today, I welcomed new commitments from Visa and Mastercard, as well as from cloud computing company Twilio.