OTTAWA – More than 100 Canadian heath and policy experts say the federal government has succumbed to “vaccine nationalism” because it has pre-purchased tens of millions of vaccine doses from private companies.
They are also critical of the government for not yet giving financial support to an international fund to help poor countries receive a COVID-19 vaccine — the COVAX Facility, as it’s called, which aims to equitably distribute two billion doses to them by the end of next year.
COVAX is aimed at averting a scramble by individual countries to secure vaccines for their own populations, often by pre-buying doses directly from pharmaceutical companies.
The Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research and Canadian Society for International Health, the lead groups in a letter released today, say Canada is doing just that because it has made deals to buy tens of millions of vaccine doses from at least four international biotech companies.
The spokesman for Karina Gould, Canada’s international-development minister, has said Canada is planning a contribution to COVAX by the program’s Sept. 18 deadline.
Gould, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has said repeatedly that Canada wants to ensure that poorer countries have fair access to an eventual cure for the COVID-19 pandemic because the novel coronavirus can only be stamped out if it is stamped out everywhere.