OTTAWA – The 13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine Canada has pledged to the COVAX program are not sourced directly from manufacturers.
International Development Minister Karina Gould confirmed in an interview with the Canadian press on Monday that the 13 million doses were in fact the doses that Canada should have received following the signing of the program’s dose supply contract.
“We will no longer take the doses we ordered and will return those doses to the COVAX program,” said Ms Gould.
To date, Canada has received about a million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative. Another delivery, the volume of which has not been specified, is expected by the end of the month.
Overall, Canada plans to phase out 1.4 million doses of vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, 4.1 million from AstraZeneca and 7.8 million from US manufacturer Novavax.
The Novavax vaccine is still not approved for use in the world.
Canada also estimates that its $ 575 million donation to the COVAX initiative will purchase 72 million to 85 million doses.
NDP health critic Don Davis said the idea of Canada providing 100 million doses for the COVAX program is actually a sleight of hand, as it is currently impossible to buy these doses due to lack of supplies.
He also recalled that half of the promised doses come from the manufacturer, whose vaccine cannot yet be administered anywhere.
So, he says, Canada’s “generous contribution” is actually only six million doses, which it should never have taken to begin with.
The COVAX program was created in 2020 to try to manage dose distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, which was then available in limited quantities. The challenge was to distribute doses fairly across the world.
Richer countries were encouraged to purchase their doses through the program and add a financial contribution to help less affluent countries.
However, many rich countries have chosen to bargain directly with vaccine manufacturers to secure their own supplies.
Canada is one of the countries that have contributed to the COVAX program through partial agreements with manufacturers.
He, in particular, paid COVAX $ 220 million for the purchase of doses, and also added $ 575 million in financial contribution.
But he also struck deals with seven different manufacturers to procure at least 251 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.