Canada is now in talks with other governments about a plan to donate vaccine to lower-income countries. The country has reserved enough doses to vaccinate residents against COVID-19.
According to Independent.Co, Canada has made deals to purchase more doses per capita than any other country.
The researchers at the Duke Global Health Innovation Center in North Carolina stated that Canada is among a handful of wealthy nations that reserved billions of doses between them before late-stage trial data came in.
The reservation means that Canada gets access to the vaccine even if only one or two of them worked. The country could donate extra doses through the COVAX facility, which is backed by the World Health Organization or WHO. They will distribute them to poorer countries.
A COVAX sourced confirmed to New York Daily News that discussions are going on between Canada and other governments and organizations involved with COVAX. The COVAX facility is created to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine.
On November 16, Deputy Procurement Minister Bill Matthews was asked about the issue in a parliamentary committee. He said that Canada would have options that if all seven suppliers had their vaccines approved, it would still be too early for a plan.
It is not yet clear whether any country will receive more vaccine doses than it can use. Only Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have released late-stage trial data. Canada has deals in place to purchase at least 20 million doses from each of the two major companies.
But while different vaccines work in different ways, almost all target the same part of the coronavirus. Some experts see strong early data as a sign that other vaccines may also work.
The country's discussions follow a tack set by the European Union, which has told member states they can donate extra doses to low and middle-income countries.
The approach could undermine the efforts to ensure vaccines are distributed fairly around the world. COVAX was created to purchase vaccines and share them among countries and not just distribute donated leftovers. COVAX is led by the GAVI vaccine group.
The aim of the group is to make 2 billion COVID vaccine doses available by the end of 2021, and it has raised more than $2 billion in funding. It needs $5 billion more to meet its goal.
If first world countries do not close the funding gap, and then they wait until most of their own residents are vaccinated before sharing doses, millions of frontline workers and other vulnerable people in low-income countries would have to wait long for vaccination.
Demand for a COVID-19 vaccine is expected to exceed supply into 2022 and in the coming years. A recent vaccine modeling report from the Center for Global Development estimated that there would not be enough doses to vaccinate everyone until the year 2023.
Canada has a population of 38 million and the country ordered up to 414 million vaccine doses through seven purchase agreements. In the event that all seven are approved, that would be enough to vaccinate the entire country more than five times over.