OTTAWA — The federal government is donating 17.7 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and is asking Canadians to give their own money to help other countries get needles into arms.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand says after talking to provinces, it was determined these doses are excess supply.
“With close to 55 million vaccines in Canada, and with the demands of the provinces and territories for this vaccine being met, we are now in a position to donate these excess doses,” she said Monday.
“This donation is possible as a result of our proactive approach to securing hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines in our initial contracts,” Anand added.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had previously pledged Canada would give back 13 million shots it was set to receive through a contract with the global vaccine-sharing alliance COVAX.
Canada is on track to receive 68 million doses by the end of July, which would be enough to inoculate most Canadians.
The Liberal government also announced it would match donations Canadians make to a UNICEF fundraising campaign called “Give a Vax”, for a contribution of up to $10 million.
David Morley, the head of UNICEF Canada, says the money raised will pay for transportation and some of the other logistical needs required to deliver vaccines to people.
“We are urgently calling on all Canadians to ‘Give a Vax’ and donate to help UNICEF deliver life-saving vaccines to health workers in high-risk groups in lower income countries around the world,” he explained.
International Development Minister Karina Gould says she’s heard Canadians want to be part of the global COVID-19 vaccination effort.
“As Canadians are hearing more about the Delta and the Lambda variant, recognizing that if the pandemic continues to rage in other parts of the world, that’s more opportunities for variants and mutations to emerge,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“We are now in a position where we can start to pivot excess (vaccine) doses that won’t be needed for the Canadian population lower- and lower middle-income countries.”