Canada joins other rich countries in `vaccine nationalism’ race
August 5, 2020 - Canada has joined other rich countries like the United States and Britain that are pre-ordering millions of potential coronavirus vaccines for their citizens.
Through this move known as ‘vaccine nationalism’, these wealthy nations are striking mass purchase deals with drug makers with promising vaccine candidates.
The U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy, among others, have made similar deals.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has however warned rich countries not to leave poor countries out in the access to COVID-19 drugs or vaccines, stressing that "It should be available to everyone not only those that can pay"
Canada’s Minister of Procurement, Ms Anita Anand, announced on Wednesday that the government had placed orders for millions of doses with Pfizer and Moderna.
The two companies are among others with COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the third and final stage of clinical trials that could be ready by the end of the year.
Anand, who was not specific on the number of doses and their cost, said the deals would give Canadians access to the vaccines, if successful, in 2021.
She said the details could not be made public for now due to ongoing negotiations between the government and other suppliers for millions of more doses.
The minister added that the government had also ordered millions of syringes and other equipment for a mass vaccination campaign ahead of the availability of a vaccine.
On July 22, the U.S. government said it had reached a 1.95-billion-dollar (N742.9 billion) agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech SE for 100 million doses, and could acquire up to 500 million more.
Again, the government on Wednesday announced a one-billion-dollar (N381 billion) deal with another producer, Johnson & Johnson, for another 100 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine.
Also in July, the U.K. announced that it had secured 90 million doses of two different COVID-19 vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Valneva, with an option of 40 million more doses if successful.
This came after France, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy announced a joint 400-million-dose deal with AstraZeneca, which is working on the Oxford University’s vaccine development.
This “my country first’’ approach by wealthy countries is a source of concern to global health agencies, including GAVI, an international vaccine alliance.
GAVI’s Chief Executive, Seth Berkley, said the scramble was a threat to efforts by the alliance and other partners to bulk-buy and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
According to experts, the rush may prompt these countries into bidding against one another, thus leading to a spike in the price of vaccines and related materials.
They noted that low and middle-income countries would be left behind, thus undermining the quest for global cooperation to defeat the virus.