Canada has signed an agreement to secure another 20 million vaccine doses as the global race for a COVID-19 vaccine intensifies. During a news conference in Ottawa Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a deal with AstraZeneca on access to a vaccine prospect now being developed at Oxford University. As a result, the federal government has now secured access to six leading vaccine candidates. None of the candidates have been proven to work so far.
“We’ve been guided by science since the very beginning, and right now, both the COVID-19 vaccine task force and the immunity task force are doing important work to help us identify the most promising vaccine options and strategies,” he said. There is no approved vaccine yet for COVID-19, though there are many in clinical trials and in development.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the global market is intense and unpredictable. “Each supplier and therefore each negotiation is unique, with its own set of concerns,” she said. “The resulting agreements contain terms specifying the quantity, the price, the anticipated delivery schedule, the manufacturing and finishing parameters for each vaccine. When a vaccine is ready, Canada will be ready.”
The federal government already has reached vaccine agreements with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Pfizer and Moderna, for a total of 282 million doses. Full payments to drug companies are contingent on the vaccines passing clinical trials and obtaining regulatory approval. Health Canada says it will review the evidence on safety, efficacy and manufacturing quality for each vaccine to determine if individual vaccines will be approved for use in Canada before they are made available to Canadians.
The government is also procuring equipment and supplies needed for vaccine manufacturing and packaging, as well as immunization equipment such as syringes, needles and alcohol swabs.
Trudeau also announced that Canada will provide $440 million to COVAX, a global procurement initiative meant to ensure fair, equitable and timely access to vaccines for less wealthy countries. “This pandemic can’t be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” Trudeau said.