International Development Minister Karina Gould responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Tuesday December 10, 2019 in Ottawa. Gould says Canada is doubling its dollar commitment to the global vaccine sharing alliance known as COVAX, but isn’t yet committing to a specific donation of excess vaccine doses.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

International Development Minister Karina Gould responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Tuesday December 10, 2019 in Ottawa. Gould says Canada is doubling its dollar commitment to the global vaccine sharing alliance known as COVAX, but isn’t yet committing to a specific donation of excess vaccine doses.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada doubles dollars to COVAX, but no sign of donating doses yet

Canada will donate another $220 million to the 92 low and mid-income countries that rely on program

Canada is doubling its direct cash commitment to help buy COVID-19 vaccines for the global sharing program known as COVAX but isn’t sending any actual doses this month despite a desperate plea from officials for help.

International Development Minister Karina Gould told a virtual COVAX summit hosted by Japan Wednesday that Canada will donate another $220 million to help COVAX buy more vaccines to deliver to the 92 low and middle-income countries that rely on the facility to vaccinate their citizens.

That is on top of $220 million committed last September to buy doses for lower income nations through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, $75 million to help get those doses delivered, and $30 million reallocated to COVAX from a separate vaccine program for pneumococcal disease.

“These vaccines are our best exit strategy from this pandemic,” Gould said in a speech at the summit.

“But the world also needs access to them. Borders shouldn’t be barriers to the best and latest science.”

But borders have been a barrier, with wealthy countries snapping up more than 80 per cent of the almost two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines now administered around the world.

Canada, which started off slowly, has vaccinated more than 22 million people, with two-thirds of eligible people over the age of 12 now receiving at least one dose.

That puts Canada in the top 10 countries for people at least partly vaccinated. When second doses are also factored in, Canada has given out 64 doses for every 100 people in the country, putting in the top 20 countries in the world for doses per capita.

More than two dozen countries, mostly in Africa, have given out fewer than one dose per 100 people. COVAX has distributed 77 million doses so far, and aims to get two billion delivered by the end of the year.

But it said last week its first goal in June will fall 190 million doses short without immediate help from wealthy countries who are way ahead of the world on vaccinations. The results of that shortfall “could be catastrophic,” COVAX leaders said in a statement May 27.

India’s Serum Institute was to be one of the major suppliers of COVAX but because of the massive third wave in India this spring, the country has banned further export of doses for any reason until at least the end of the year.

“Countries with the largest supplies should redirect doses to COVAX now, to have maximum impact,” COVAX said.

COVAX was looking for another $2 billion in donations and the promise of actual doses. It got the money, but only a few additional promises of donations of vaccines.

To date there about 200 million doses on the table, half from the European Union, but it’s not clear when they’ll be distributed.

The United States intends to donate 80 million doses by the end of this month, but hasn’t said yet if they’ll go through COVAX or to other countries directly.

Canada has 28 million doses delivered so far and expects at least 100 million by the fall, far more than it needs to give two doses to all 38 million Canadians.

Gould was appointed in January as a co-chair of the COVAX engagement group trying to help create a mechanism to allow for doses to be donated and some of Canada’s funding has helped establish that. But she said Canada isn’t yet in a position to put actual doses on the table.

“We do not have excess vaccines currently coming to Canada,” she said.

“At this point in time we’re still very much focused on our domestic schedule but I can assure you that when we do have excess doses, we will be making that announcement.”

That is not good enough for the government’s critics.

“Canada’s position has been a gross disappointment,” said NDP health critic Don Davies. “It’s wrong from a moral and ethical point of view and its counter to our own public health needs.”

The more COVID-19 spreads, the higher the risk of new variants of concern which may evade the vaccinations we are giving out now. Experts have said vaccinating the world equitably, to help slow the spread globally, is the only way the pandemic will end.

Green party Leader Annamie Paul said COVAX has been very clear about what it needs and said Canada is creating a “false security” by only focusing on getting doses to Canadians at first.

COVAX is one of three arms of the 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 Canada would increase its overall support to the ACT Accelerator by $375 million to a total of more than $1.3 billion. Today’s $220 million donation to COVAX comes from that May pledge, which the international anti-poverty group Global Citizen said put Canada among a small group of countries donating an amount on par with the size of their economy.

—Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Pfizer-BioNTech pledge 2B doses to poor nations

CoronavirusFederal Politicsvaccines

Just Posted

Kimberley Search and Rescue were able to quickly respond to a call for service and transport an injured mountain biker to East Kootenay Regional Hospital over the weekend. Kimberley SAR file photo.
Kimberley Search and Rescue respond to injured mountain biker on Bootleg Mountain

Kimberley Search and Rescue responded to a call for service this past… Continue reading

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

x
City of Kimberley approves RCMP contract strength at eight members

At their regular meeting on Monday, June 14, 2021, Kimberley City Council… Continue reading

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Kimberley residents were treated to the first Farmers' Market of the season, and the feeling of a return to normalcy. Paul Rodgers photos.
WATCH: Kimberley’s first Farmers’ Market of the season

Kimberley residents enjoyed the first Farmers’ Market of the year on Thursday,… Continue reading

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

An example of the timber blowdown that let to the logging at Mountain Station. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Most Read