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Canada may defer vaccine deliveries rather than launch early global sharing

FedEx employees unload a shipment from Europe containing doses of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 at Toronto Pearson Airport in Ontario, on March 24, 2021.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

As the Canadian vaccine supply expands, the federal government is considering a plan to defer some deliveries for its future use, rather than making any immediate plans to donate to needy countries.

In recent days, countries such as France, the United States, Norway, New Zealand and Spain have all announced that they will begin redistributing vaccines to poorer countries, where doses are desperately needed. In Canada, though, Ottawa is suggesting that Health Canada needs to approve more shots before any can be donated.

About 33 per cent of the eligible Canadian population has received at least one vaccine dose, and enough vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of July to fully immunize every Canadian who qualifies, according to calculations by The Globe and Mail based on government data. The federal government is expecting that tens of millions more doses will arrive by the end of September.

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By contrast, more than 120 of the world’s lower-income countries – largely dependent on the non-profit COVAX program – have received enough vaccines for only about 0.6 per cent of their populations so far. Crucial exports from the biggest COVAX supplier, an Indian company, have been diverted to that country’s domestic needs as the pandemic grows much deadlier there, delaying its shipments to the global program.

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