Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with Health Minister Patty Hajdu, holds an empty COVID-19 vaccine vial after the first vaccinations were given at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa on Dec. 15, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/Blair Gable /Toronto Sun
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Canada is being described as a vaccine pirate after the latest announcement of COVID vaccine approvals showed we will be getting our doses from a facility funded to provide vaccines for the developing world.
On Friday, Health Canada announced that they had approved two related but distinct products, the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in collaboration with Oxford University and COVISHIELD, a version of the AstraZeneca recipe manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
The problem is that Canada will be getting its doses, starting as early as Wednesday, from the Serum Institute, an organization funded to produce vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries.
Like the announcement that the Trudeau government will take 1.9 million doses from COVAX, this makes it look like Canada is taking vaccines meant for poorer countries.
In a news release last June announcing the deal that would allow the SII to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, the company specifically said it was to supply 1 billion doses for low-and-middle-income countries In September, a donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation allowed the program to expand by an extra 100 million doses.
Every single one of which is a dose made in India for developing countries, which Canada poached last week because Trudeau bungled our own procurement.
How many people in other lands will this kill? Sunny ways it isnt. Ashamed to be Canadian today. https://t.co/esfzPL0824
Amir Attaran (@profamirattaran) February 27, 2021
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This is vaccine manufacturing for the Global South, by the Global South, helping us to ensure no country is left behind when it comes to the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO Gavi, the alliance to ensure poor countries have access to vaccines.
Now Canada has found its way to the front of that line.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed on Friday that of the 3.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines that we will see delivered before the end of June, 2 million will come from the Serum Institute and 1.9 million from COVAX.
The move has led one former Canadian health bureaucrat who now works internationally to accuse the Trudeau government of turning Canada into a global vaccine pirate. Its a view held by many people paying attention to the details of our latest vaccine announcement.
Amir Attaran, a professor with the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa, accused the Trudeau government of poaching these doses from developing countries.
How many people in other lands will this kill? Sunny ways it isnt, Attaran said on Twitter.
Dr. Srinivas Murthy, an infectious disease specialist with the B.C. Childrens Hospital, said that Canada was taking doses away from LMICs or low and middle-income countries.
This is much more anger-inducing than the COVAX conversation weeks ago. The Serum Institute of India was funded by CEPI and GAVI to produce vaccines for LMICs. Canada, because of diplomacy and money, is skipping that line and taking doses meant for LMICs, Dr. Murthy said.
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When the Trudeau government announced at the beginning of February that we would be taking vaccines from COVAX, the move was blasted by a broad range of organizations including Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.
Canada should not be taking the COVAX vaccine from poor nations to alleviate political pressures at home, Oxfam said at the time.
This is much more anger-inducing than the COVAX conversation weeks ago. The Serum Institute of India was funded by CEPI and GAVI to produce vaccines for LMICs. Canada, because of diplomacy and money, is skipping that line and taking doses meant for LMICs.https://t.co/YmWERXomLjhttps://t.co/9LT8taSHyw
srinivas murthy (@srinmurthy99) February 26, 2021
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Yet, that is exactly what Trudeau was doing in early February and it is what he is doing now. Canadians are upset at seeing Americans, Brits, Italians, Serbians and Barbadians vaccinated much fast than we are, and they are rightly blaming the federal government.
Even the record 643,000 doses received across the country last week is less than the Americans use before lunch each day.
Justin Trudeau campaigned on improving Canadas reputation on the world stage, now we are taking vaccines meant for developing countries. It is nothing short of a national embarrassment.
The Trudeau government owes Canadians an explanation on his latest moves; lets hope he faces the tough questions he should later this week.
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