AstraZeneca pledges 20 million vaccine doses for Canada

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday a deal with AstraZeneca to procure up to 20 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate being developed with Oxford University.

This comes after Ottawa signed similar agreements with Sanofi and GSK, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna.

In total, Canada now has access to six Covid-19 vaccines under development or in clinical trials to prove their safety and effectiveness, or a combined minimum of 174 million doses, according to Procurement Minister Anita Anand.

Trudeau on Friday also pledged Can$220 million (US$165 million) in funding for Covax, the international coronavirus procurement pool, that would secure another 15 million vaccine doses for Canadians.

An additional Can$220 million has been earmarked to purchase doses through Covax for low- and middle-income countries, he said.

“This pandemic can’t be solved by any one country alone,” Trudeau told a news conference. “Because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere.”

“That’s why Canada is helping ensure vaccines are distributed quickly and fairly around the world by supporting (vaccine alliance) Gavi’s Covax facility and advanced market commitment,” he said.

The WHO has said more than 170 countries are in talks to participate in the Covax initiative.

More than 60 wealthy nations — excluding the US and China — have already joined the WHO-backed program.

The aim is for Covax to lay its hands on two billion vaccines doses by the end of 2021.

On Friday, Canada — which has a population of nearly 38 million — surpassed 150,000 Covid-19 cases, including 11,500 active infections and nearly 9,300 deaths. (AFP)