Hundreds of thousands of Moderna’s COVID-19 doses donated by Canada to a global vaccine-sharing program have safely arrived at an airport in Egypt, government sources say.
Government sources with knowledge of the vaccine schedule say shipments containing millions more COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be delivered in the coming days.
The 784,280 doses, donated through the COVAX Facility, brings Canada’s total contributions to 4,225,760.
“(Canada) is proud to assist (Egypt) in the fight against #COVID-19,” Louis Dumas, Canada’s ambassador to Egypt, tweeted Sunday. “No one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday at the G20 summit in Rome that Canada is donating 10 million Moderna doses to poorer nations through the COVAX vaccine sharing facility, and will be ramping up its total vaccine contributions to 200 million by the end of 2022.
“The size of Canada’s commitment of 200 million doses by the end of 2022 is very significant given our size and given the fact that we do not have our own domestic bio-manufacturing capacity,” she said.
“It’s hard to be exactly precise and may be particularly hard for Canada since we’re not manufacturing this stuff ourselves. But let me just say, we expect those Moderna doses to be delivered quickly.”
Vaccination and vaccine recognition were key topics during the G20 summit, which finished up on Sunday.
Canada has fully vaccinated just under 74 per cent of its entire population. On average, the G20 nations have fully vaccinated about 55 per cent of their populations. Globally, 38 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. In Africa, it’s not even six per cent.
The World Health Organization has urged countries to donate to its COVAX facility initiative, staking the world’s economic recovery on the equitable distribution of vaccines.
“The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective,” WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference last month.
The agency is also pleading with countries to recognize the COVID-19 vaccines it has authorized for emergency use, including China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm shots, as borders reopen to immunized travellers.
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The COVAX program has shied from its target of delivering 2 billion doses by the end of the year, distributing just 150 million vaccines to poorer countries in need.
In an open letter released Friday, Tedros asked world leaders to “immediately” donate an additional 550 million doses to help the WHO achieve its goal of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of all countries by the end of this year, and 70 per cent by mid-2022.
“Promises aren’t translating into vaccines reaching the people that need them,” read the letter, which was also signed by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
“Of the almost 7 billion doses that have been administered globally, just 3 per cent of people in low-income countries have had a jab so far. Where are the rest?”
— With files from Global News’ Mike Le Couteur, the Canadian Press and the Associated Press