OTTAWA – The European Union is again threatening to halt exports of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, at a time when Canada is set to see a huge influx of doses with record deliveries coming next week.
As the EU faces a third wave of this pandemic, and production disruptions and fears around blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine are causing shortages, the head of the EU is once again talking about preventing deliveries outside that region.
Ursula von der Leyen says this is the crisis of the century and they will have to reflect on the exports to other countries.
“AstraZeneca has unfortunately under-produced and under-delivered, and this painfully, of course, reduced the speed of the vaccination campaign,” von der Leyen told reporters.
Two of Canada’s approved vaccines — the ones made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — are produced in Europe.
This comes as Canada is expecting deliveries of two million doses next week. Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Pfizer is set to deliver 1.2-million doses while Moderna is expected to deliver more than 800,000 doses.
Also, 1,194,570 Pfizer doses are arriving next week and 1,195,740 the following week.
In total, Canada is receiving over 2 million doses next week and a cumulative total of 8 million doses by the end of March.
— Anita Anand (@AnitaOakville) March 16, 2021
Canada is also in talks with the U.S. about vaccines as President Joe Biden says his government will open access to other countries when the American population is inoculated.
The U.S. has said Canada and Mexico are at the top of the list.
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) March 17, 2021
Canada’s vaccination efforts have ramped up in recent weeks after a slower than anticipated start. The country currently has four vaccines approved for emergency use, including those made by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.
Several countries in Europe have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in recent days over reports of dangerous blood clots in some people who received the shot.
This comes despite the company, health officials, and international regulators saying there is no evidence to link the vaccine to these conditions.
Related video: Trudeau says AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is ‘safe and effective
The European regulator said Tuesday there is “no indication” the drug causes clots, and von der Leyen reiterated her trust in the vaccine on Wednesday.
-With files from The Associated Press