Canada offers more money to COVAX as vaccine dose donations stagnate

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Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Published Friday, April 8, 2022 12:52 PM EDT

Last updated on Friday, April 8, 2022 2:43 PM EDT

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Says Canada Will Donate Another $220 Million To The COVAX Global Vaccine Sharing Alliance.

The funds will be Canada’s total monetary donation to . bring COVAX to approximately $700 million to purchase, supply and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.

“Our common goal should be to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines and other medical countermeasures so that every country has what it needs to protect its people from this virus,” Trudeau said during a virtual meeting on Friday. COVAX meeting.

COVAX raised an additional US$1.7 billion from countries such as Canada during the event.

The money is intended to help Canada fulfill its pledge to donate at least 200 million doses by the end of the year.

The latter contribution is intended to help recipient countries prepare for the reception and distribution of the vaccines on offer.

Last month, International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan traveled to Senegal and Ghana to meet with local officials overseeing their vaccine programs. He said the problem with vaccine donations is no longer about supply.

Instead, it is restrictions on vaccine distribution within recipient countries, including the peripherals such as syringes, and a high level of vaccine hesitancy, especially among younger people. He said his discussions during that trip were helpful in directing Canada’s aid where it is most needed.

“The biggest challenge for us right now is not supply,” he said. “It’s about actually getting all the other tools in place.”

Justin McAuley, the Canadian spokesperson for the global anti-poverty agency ONE Campaign, said the new funds are helpful. For the first year of COVID-19 vaccines, supply was the main constraint in both rich and low-income countries.

McAuley now said: COVAX don’t want for doses. The proprietary purchasing deals with vaccine makers are starting to pay off, and the rich countries like Canada that have picked up all the early doses of vaccines have most of their populations vaccinated and have many excess doses available.

“But some countries don’t have the refrigerators, syringes and health workers needed to get guns,” McAuley said. “So if we finance COVAX as we did today, that will ensure that the logistical support is there so that our doses do not spoil in warehouses.”

He said the funding can also help COVAX set up awareness campaigns to overcome apathy and hesitation in obtaining vaccines.

But McAuley said Canada didn’t start offering many doses to donate until it could no longer use them at home, and in many cases when their expiration dates loomed.

He said Canada needs to provide a stable, predictable supply of vaccine donations so countries that need them can prepare to receive them and get them into the fight.

Earlier this year, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asked for a pause in donations because so many were being offered that countries couldn’t keep up with storage needs or get them to the people fast enough.

He said transporting vaccines and supplies such as syringes to remote locations is still a challenge, there is a shortage of health workers who can give the injections and hesitation about vaccines is high.

Canada has fully vaccinated 82 percent of the population and 48 percent has received a third dose. As a group, the richest countries in the world have 74 percent fully vaccinated and 38 percent increased.

The poorest countries have less than 12 percent of the population fully vaccinated and only 15 percent have even one dose.

Canada pledged to donate 38 million doses of its own domestic supplies, and another 13 million from doses Canada bought for itself COVAX but not needed.

So far, Canada has shipped 14.2 million doses to 19 countries via COVAX and another 762,000 directly to six countries through bilateral vaccine donation agreements.

It says another 87 million doses have been purchased by COVAX with previous financial donations from Canada – but based on a cost-per-dose formula developed by the United Kingdom, and COVAX itself says it cannot confirm the exact number.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 8, 2022.

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