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AstraZeneca vaccine could soon be approved in Canada, but opposition says more needs to be done

FILE - This undated file photo issued by the University of Oxford on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP, File)

AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine could receive Health Canada approval this week

As Canada awaits another COVID-19 vaccine, the opposition says the feds need to do more to ensure smooth rollout

NDP leader says Canada needs to do more to speed up domestic production of vaccines

OTTAWA – Canada could see another COVID-19 vaccine approved this week, but for new shots to make a major impact, the opposition says the federal government needs to fix its vaccination systems first.

A week and a half ago, Health Canada said it expects to make a decision in days on whether or not to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in our country, and it’s believed that call may be made this week.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it’s encouraging that we could have another shot in our arsenal, but approval is not enough. He says the Trudeau government has to fix the supply and delivery disruptions that have been plaguing our vaccination efforts.

“The more delays we see in the vaccine, more people will get sick and more people can die. It is about life or death,” Singh said, adding Canada needs to do more to speed up domestic production.

“Because we will always be at the whims of international logistics if we don’t produce locally.”

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Meanwhile, an NDP MP suggests the federal government consider enacting the Emergencies Act and call in the military to take the lead on vaccination efforts over the provinces. Singh says every option should be on the table but stopped short of endorsing his member’s idea.

Canada has ordered 20-million doses from AstraZeneca, and could get more than 1.9-million doses through the COVAX agreement.

The federal government has been criticized for planning to accept doses through COVAX, an initiative that pools funds from wealthier countries to buy vaccines for themselves and for 92 low- and middle-income nations that can’t afford to buy on their own.

Ottawa has also come under fire for its plans to produce vaccines domestically, with critics saying the move came too late.

“Let’s be clear: delays in vaccines means delays in reopening and rebuilding our economy. Vaccine protectionism should have surprised no one,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said last week.