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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during a media conference at the conclusion of a NATO leaders meeting in Watford, Hertfordshire, England, Dec. 4, 2019.
Frank Augstein/AP
Health

Canada Just Committed $440 Million to an International COVID-19 Vaccine Program


Why Global Citizens Should Care
The COVID-19 pandemic cannot be tackled by a single country — ending it will require international cooperation and the equitable distribution of eventual COVID-19 vaccines is vital to this and to achieving the United Nations’ Global Goal 3 for good health and well-being for all. Join the movement and take action on this issue here.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a commitment of $220 million to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, which aims to provide equitable access to vaccines to Canadians and people around the world on Friday.

The government pledged an additional $220 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, which will go towards purchasing vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries.

"This pandemic can’t be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate this virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere," Trudeau said during a press conference.

The COVAX Facility is managed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, working closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). The network works to ensure that vaccines can be equitably distributed between low- and high-income countries. More than 170 countries have signed on to support the COVAX Facility, which aims to have 2 billion doses of vaccines available by the end of 2021.

Of the $440 million investment announced today, $220 million will go directly to securing 15 million doses for Canadians, with the rest of the investment to be used to help the international community.

The prime minister also announced an agreement with AstraZeneca to obtain up to 20 million doses of its COVID‑19 vaccine candidate. This is on top of agreements established with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna, the government reports.

Trudeau finished his briefing by reminding Canadians that there are active cases in every single province. He asked that people follow public health advisories by wearing masks, washing their hands, practicing social distancing, and downloading Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app.

"The fight against COVID-19 is not over yet, and we must continue to do our part," Trudeau said.

Trudeau’s comments were followed by an address from Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand, who reiterated that protecting Canadians is the government’s top priority, noting that "the global market for vaccines remains intense and unpredictable."

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"Canada has access to a guaranteed 174 million doses of potential vaccines to protect Canadians and to save lives," she said, adding that these vaccines will only be distributed once they are considered safe and effective. 

She later turned her comments to the need to work together on an international front.

"We know, as the prime minister has said, that Canadians alone will not suppress the virus in the long term," she said. "COVID-19 does not recognize international boundaries."

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Not only does participation in the COVAX Facility guarantee an additional 15 million doses of the vaccine for Canadians, but it provides access to vaccines to countries that wouldn’t be able to access them otherwise, Anand said.

"Supporting other countries in their fights against COVID-19 and other infectious diseases reflects our Canadian values," she added.

The government believes this commitment will act as an investment in bringing the country back to a state of normalcy.