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Vaccine donations by Canada won’t hurt national rollout: health official

Friday, June 11, 2021 @ 4:55 PM | By Terry Davidson

Federal officials are confident Canada’s donation of COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need will not disrupt its own rollout and goal to have most Canadians fully vaccinated by the end of September.

When asked about this during a June 11 national update on the COVID-19 heath crisis, deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said it is possible to “walk and chew gum at the same time.”

“The fact is the deliveries of vaccines are coming to Canada and we’re well on track to be able to offer the two doses of vaccine to every Canadian that’s eligible,” said Njoo, who went on to talk of giving back.

“At the same time, certainly, other government officials are obviously in discussions, including our senior political leaders, in terms of what Canada can be doing at the global level. So, I think in some ways it’s not one or the other. It’s really more [that] both things are happening at the same time.”

At that update, Joelle Paquette, director general for vaccine procurement at Public Services and Procurement Canada, shared Njoo’s optimism, noting Canada “did secure more than 400 million doses of vaccines and vaccine candidates.”

“So, we are in a position where [vaccine donations are] possible, but … I want to just assure you that it will not impact our objective of fully vaccinating all Canadians by the end of September,” she said.

Their comments come on the heels of news reports that Canada’s government will soon announce a commitment to share up to 100 million doses of vaccine. Reports stated the announcement will be made later in the G7 Summit, which is currently underway in Cornwall, England.

It is expected the G7 nations will move to provide more than one billion doses to countries less fortunate, with the U.S. reportedly leading the way in its plan to donate 500 million doses.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government faced heat as of late for not having committed to share any surplus of vaccine. Britain faced similar criticism up until very recently, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced it would donate 100 million doses by the end of 2022.

But with an official announcement still yet to come, Canada remains the only G7 country not to have made such a commitment.

According to a federal government Summit update, Trudeau and Johnson discussed vaccine donation and “emphasized the importance of efficient and equitable access to vaccines around the world to end the pandemic for good.”

During Canada’s June 11 COVID-19 update, chief public health officer Theresa Tam spoke of light at the end of the tunnel coming in the form of falling numbers.

“The average national case count has dropped more than 80 per cent since the peak of the third wave, to under 1,550 cases reported daily,” she said, also noting a drop in the daily average being treated in hospital for COVID-19.   

Tam also said the number of patients being treated in intensive care has dropped “more than 45 per cent,” and that average daily deaths are “down 40 per cent.”

According to a federal government news release, more than 27.7 million doses of vaccine had been given in Canada as of June 11. Also as of then, 70 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and up had received at least one dose, while nine per cent had received two.

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