Canada can and must share vaccines now
KAIROS joins other Love My Neighbour Project participants and civil society groups in signing on to this press release, led by UNICEF, that calls on Canada to do more on vaccine dose sharing. This press release and campaign around dose sharing comes in the lead up to the G7 meetings next week.
To reduce the grossly imbalanced distribution of vaccines globally and put an end to COVID everywhere, Canada must join other wealthy countries in donating doses through COVAX.
For every 10 Canadians who can access a dose, start sharing 1 dose with frontline health workers and vulnerable people in lower-income countries — now, not later.
Ahead of next week’s G7 in the UK, we call on Prime Minister Trudeau to act on his government’s stated commitment to share vaccines with COVAX — the global COVID vaccine distribution initiative — to help protect frontline health workers and people at high risk of dying from COVID-19 in lower income countries. Canada ordered far more than enough vaccines for our own needs, and sharing doses immediately will save lives and end the global pandemic sooner, while minimizing the impact on people in Canada.
COVID-19 is still spreading in many countries and producing new variants with the potential to evade our vaccines and put us all back at risk. The pandemic will not end in Canada until it ends everywhere, and that means getting enough vaccines to every country, quickly.
Dr. Tedros, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), is calling for higher income countries to support a massive push to vaccinate at least 10% of every country’s population by September. Canada can and must help by sharing doses in addition to the funding it has provided.
As the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, COVAX has proven it works. However, COVAX is undersupplied because wealthy countries like Canada reserved more vaccine doses than needed, while the most vulnerable in lower income countries wait. Whereas over 50% of people in Canada have received their first dose, less than 1 % have received a dose in low-income countries. The crisis in India, the world’s biggest vaccine producer, also led the Indian government to suspend exports, cutting off a big portion of COVAX’s supply. Just 77 million doses out of an initial allocation of 237 million have been shipped by COVAX to 127 economies around the world since February, covering less than 0.5% of their populations.
France, New Zealand, Sweden, Spain, Norway, and the United States have committed to start sharing vaccines while they continue their own roll-outs. By the end of June, Canada will have received 40–48 million doses, more than enough for 75% of Canadians to get a first dose and 20% to receive their second, key thresholds for re-opening plans. By August, Canada will have enough to fully vaccinate its entire population. Canada has ordered more doses per capita (more than 10) than any other country and therefore has a responsibility to share with the world.
For every 10 doses Canada will have received by the end of June, we can start by donating just 1 vaccine to COVAX for a frontline health worker or other vulnerable people. This would amount to at least 4 million doses shared. By using these doses to protect vulnerable people, Canada will slow the spread of the pandemic and future variants. After June, donations should then rapidly increase so that, by the end of the year, Canada will have donated the entirety of its expected 94 million excess doses.
Polls show a large majority of Canadians are in favour of sharing vaccines with lower-income countries. Next week, Canada can join other world leaders at the G7 and make a substantial commitment in the name of equity. This move is also essential for ending the pandemic and is supported by a majority of Canadians: share our vaccines with other countries in need.