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Canada to donate 10 million doses of Moderna vaccine to COVAX

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Canada to donate 10 million doses of Moderna vaccine to COVAX

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OTTAWA – Canada will donate 10 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX Vaccine Sharing Center and donate $ 15 million to help manufacture mRNA vaccines in Africa.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the donation in Rome this afternoon as he attended the G20 leaders’ summit.

Canada also intends to increase its financial support to COVAX to purchase an additional 63 million doses of its own.

In total, between financial contributions and direct dose delivery, Canada says it will help deliver at least 200 million vaccines by the end of next year.

Vaccine equity is a big issue on the summit table, with warnings from the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization, among others, that inequitable vaccine distribution will delay the global economic recovery and will make it very uneven.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, host of this year’s summit, said in his opening speech on Saturday that the inequitable delivery of vaccines is “surprising”.

On average, G20 countries have fully immunized around 55% of their population. Canada has fully immunized 74 percent of its entire population.

Globally, 38% of the population is fully immunized. In Africa, it’s not even six percent.

“These differences are morally unacceptable and undermine the global recovery,” he said.

Stuart Hickox, Canadian director of anti-poverty organization ONE Campaign, said the number of boosters administered by the world’s richest countries is already twice the number of first doses administered by low-income countries and intermediate.

“While we are already talking about third doses here, half the world is still waiting for a vital first injection. It is great to see the government take these urgent measures,” he said. “The pandemic isn’t really going to end here at home until it ends everywhere.”

Canada previously pledged to donate 40 million excess doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines, the latter still in development.

All of these doses must be from supplies purchased by Canada but not yet delivered. Canada also has about 19 million doses in federal and provincial freezers, far more than it takes to fully immunize everyone over 12 years of age.

Pediatric doses for young children are arriving in new shipments as the dose is one-third the size and must be supplied in different vials.

Canada also donated $ 515 million to COVAX itself to purchase up to 87 million doses, including $ 75 million for distribution costs and supplies such as syringes and needles.

Canada has so far delivered 3.4 million of these promised doses, including 2.7 million through COVAX, and the remainder through bilateral agreements with other countries, including Jamaica, Ecuador, Barbados and Peru.

It is not yet known how many doses COVAX has purchased thanks to the donation from Canada. Securing the vaccine supply is tricky, in large part because rich countries monopolized most of the initial production of COVID-19 vaccines.

All of those issued so far are doses of AstraZeneca. J&J suffered from production issues and Novavax has not yet been licensed anywhere.

Canada has ordered 44 million doses from Moderna, and approximately 30 million have been delivered.

In addition to the new doses, Canada will also donate $ 15 million to a new mRNA vaccine technology transfer center being built in South Africa to help train African companies to manufacture vaccines like those manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer.

Globally, 1.3 billion doses were promised to COVAX from rich countries but only 150 million were delivered.

World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus on Friday called on G20 leaders to immediately donate 550 million more doses so that 40% of the world’s population can be vaccinated by the end of the year.

“The promises do not translate into vaccines reaching the people who need them,” he said in an open letter also signed by Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“We can’t just hope the pandemic ends on its own,” they said, reminding people that as the virus continues to spread, the risk of new, riskier variants increases.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 30, 2021.

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