Canada has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to procure up to 20 million doses of its COVID‑19 vaccine candidate being developed at Oxford University, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.
The deal with AstraZeneca adds to agreements the federal government has already reached with drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer, and Moderna, Trudeau said.
“Canadians must have access to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 as quickly as possible no matter where it was developed,” Trudeau said.
With these agreements in place, the federal government has now secured access for Canadians to six leading vaccine candidates and 174 million doses of various vaccines if and when they become available, said Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand.
“The global market for vaccines remains intense and unpredictable,” Anand said.
The federal government has also made additional purchases of syringes, vials and swabs needed for once the vaccination begins, she added.
“When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready,” Anand said.
$440 million for international efforts to secure vaccines for everyone
Trudeau also announced Canada is committing $440 million to participate in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility, a global procurement mechanism that officials say will help deliver fair, equitable, and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The federal is committing approximately $220 million to COVAX to procure up to 15 million vaccine doses for Canadians, Trudeau said.
An additional $220 million will be channeled through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment to purchase doses for low- and middle-income countries, he added.
“This pandemic cannot be solved by any one country alone, because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” Trudeau said.
Minister of International Development Karina Gould said the Liberal government strongly believes that supporting other countries in their fight against COVID-19 is crucial to protect Canadians at home.
“Canada is committed to supporting the COVAX Facility, and the Advance Market Commitment within it, to ensure all participating countries have rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Gould said in a statement.
“The Facility is an example of how multilateral cooperation can allow us to accomplish together what none of us could accomplish alone.
The United Nations Children’s Agency, UNICEF, the world’s single largest vaccine buyer, welcomed Canada’s announcement.
“UNICEF Canada applauds Canada’s decision to ensure the additional funding for the COVAX Facility commitment does not come at the expense of funding for existing global priorities,” the UN agency’s Canadian arm said in a statement.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacting children’s access to life-saving immunization and nutrition, as well as women and girls’ access to reproductive health, Canada’s commitment to existing global health priorities must continue to remain unwavering.”