Canada’s vaccine deliveries from COVAX adjusted, adding to COVID-19 confusion
Canada bought into COVAX with $440 million, half of which secured doses for Canadians, and the other half to help buy doses for 92 nations who need help to buy vaccines.
The global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX told Canada last week it could expect to receive between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine before the end of June.
The numbers were confirmed to Canada on Feb. 2.
But public numbers posted by COVAX on Feb. 3 point only to the lower end of that range, heaping another helping of confusion on an already anxiety-laden vaccine effort.
The vaccine alliance was established last year as part of an international effort to prevent wealthy countries from snapping up all available vaccines or COVID-19 treatment drugs, leaving the world’s poorest nations to go without.
Canada bought into it with $440 million in September, half of which secured doses for Canadians, and the other half to help buy doses for 92 nations who need help to buy vaccines.
The COVAX Facility is co-ordinated by the World Health Organization, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
COVAX has agreements with multiple vaccine-makers to buy about two billion doses this year, which will be distributed among the members nations to vaccinate up to one-fifth of each country’s population.
On Jan. 30, it sent letters to all participating nations to lay out what they could expect to get in the first round of deliveries, between February and June, including 240 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India and between 96 million and 153 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced elsewhere.
That letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, shows Canada was to get between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, from SK Bioscience in South Korea. That was to include between 500,000 and 1.1 million doses by the end of March, pending approval of AstraZeneca by both the World Health Organization and Health Canada.
Canada could vaccinate another 1.6 million people by June if the upper end of the COVAX range had materialized, and Public Services and Procurement Canada is now seeking clarity from COVAX about why the range was not included in Wednesday’s publication.