OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is unrepentant that Canada is accessing enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to immunize the entire population a few times, but says the government will “absolutely” seek to share.
“As Canada gets vaccinated, if we have more vaccines than we need, we will definitely share with the world,” Trudeau said in an interview with CTV question period host Evan Solomon .
Canada has signed contracts ensuring access to 214 million doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines with the option to purchase 200 million more, meaning that if all trials go ahead, we will have access to 414 million doses. This is enough to fully immunize everyone in this country more than a few times.
The government has been criticized by groups like Amnesty International for hoarding so many vaccines, but so far it is unclear what it would do if multiple vaccine producers step up and Canada has access to millions. doses more than necessary.
Last week, Oxfam Canada released a report saying Canada topped the list of wealthy countries that have pre-purchased COVID-19 vaccines and pleaded with Canada to do its part to ensure all countries can access vaccines .
The organization warned that nine in 10 people in poor countries will not be able to be vaccinated in 2021 and that “nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people against COVID-19 next year, unless that urgent action be taken by governments and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that sufficient doses are produced. ”
Nicholas Lusiani, senior advisor at Oxfam America, said the inequitable vaccine rollout posed serious problems.
“This is not just a question or a moral concern, but really a question of economic concern. The global economy will not work if only the islands of rich countries are vaccinated, ”Lusiani told CTVNews.ca.
Asked to respond to criticism of vaccine nationalism, Trudeau said he was unrepentant to order so many doses.
“My job is to look out for Canadians and I won’t apologize for doing a good job in putting together the right plan to vaccinate as many Canadians as possible as quickly as possible. It’s my job, ”Trudeau said.
He highlighted Canada’s participation in COVAX, a global program that works for equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.
“Early investments in vaccine developers have helped them move faster and better, so countries that invest millions of dollars to encourage various companies to develop these vaccines are going to leave everyone better,” Trudeau said.
“Because we are not going through this pandemic anywhere without going through it everywhere.”
Distribution could also be a problem in developing countries. For example, the Pfizer vaccine should be stored at ultra-low temperatures in specialized freezers, usually in hospitals or universities. Advocates fear that without the proper investments in transport and infrastructure, some of the world’s poorest communities will not be able to store these vaccines.
Oxfam predicts that widespread immunization may not be available globally until 2023.
The full interview with the Prime Minister will air in CTV’s Question Period this Sunday at 11 a.m. EST.
With files from CTV’s Omar Sachedina