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Gould declined to make that commitment, calling it a hypothetical question that depends on how many of Canada’s vaccine bets pay off. “We need to cross that bridge once we get there,” she said.
We recognize that until everyone on the planet is safe from COVID-19, no one is
Then there’s the question of those figures suggesting Canada is the world leader in vaccine procurement.
The federal government has agreements to purchase or options on 414 million doses of vaccine from several suppliers. All but one product would require two doses each, meaning it’s enough to immunize all 38 million Canadians five times over.
According to data compiled by Duke’s Global Health Innovation Center, that puts Canada well ahead of the next best-stocked nations, the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
“High income countries are hedging their bets, while low-income countries are left out,” the Duke center charges.
But the statistics are misleading, as some of Canada’s deals are only for options to buy, not firm commitments from the company, noted Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor and health policy expert.
A government source said Canada has procured 194 million doses and has options for 220 million more.
That said, if Canada does end up with a huge excess amount of vaccine at the end of the day, there would no excuse, said Attaran.
“If it is true that they’ve got (commitments for) 350 million or 400 million doses … then yes, Canada is grossly unethical in hoarding vaccine far above its needs,” he said. “We must not accept delivery of more than we will use, or it will go to waste, and grotesquely deprive people who need it.”
Jason Nickerson, a humanitarian affairs advisor with Médecins Sans Frontières in Ottawa, concurred and said Canada will clearly have a surplus if most of those doses are delivered.
He urged Canada to follow the example of France, and commit now to donating its left-over vaccine, particularly to residents of refugee camps and other high-risk people.
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