TACOMA, Washington — The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard in underdeveloped nations. A recent report from the World Health Organization issued a stern warning that these countries may not have the necessary access to a vaccine until 2024. However, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution goals include ensuring that impoverished countries will have access through the WHO’s COVAX program. Not only is Canada the second-largest provider of funds to the program but it has further planned to oversee the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Canada’s Proactive Approach
Canada has taken a proactive approach to vaccinate impoverished nations. Some watchdogs were concerned that Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan involved the hoarding of vaccines. The reality is that even though Canada made plans during purchasing that would cover its population five times over, donations to impoverished countries were already a primary strategy. Canadian leaders ordered vaccines from all companies in trial stages, including Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. This approach secured vaccinations for Canadian citizens as well as for significant donations to developing countries through COVAX.
Canada handled the purchasing logistics differently than any other wealthy nation. Canadian leadership recognized the need for impoverished countries to have access to vaccines for prosperity to restore worldwide.
Breaking Down the Numbers
Thus far, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan approved two vaccines: Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The initial four million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech are ahead of schedule, and phase one of inoculations is underway. There are an additional five vaccines that Canada has ordered that are still in the trial phase. Optimistically, a possible 418 million vaccines will be available for Canada from now through 2022.
With a population of close to 38 million people, Canada can vaccinate all citizens and have a remaining stockpile of over 375 million vaccines to allocate to COVAX for impoverished nations. The goal of COVAX is to provide two billion doses for equitable distribution by the end of 2021. Out of the 78 participating countries, Canada can provide nearly 20% of what is needed for COVAX to reach its goal. Per capita, donations from Canada go above and beyond the call of duty to provide for the world’s poor.
Second only to the United Kingdom, Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan included $440 million in assistance to COVAX. This even exceeds the United States $290 million in contributions. In perspective, at the cost of roughly $1.60 per vaccine, Canada can cover the expenses of an additional 250 million vaccines with its investment. However, the most expensive aspect of providing the vaccines is logistics, where most funds will go.
The Impact of Canada’s Aid and Example
Considering Canada has only the number 10-largest GDP, its reach to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to underdeveloped nations is understated. The support offered to logistics and to ensure many vaccines are available for impoverished countries through Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan will benefit hundreds of millions living in poverty.
Other wealthy nations must observe Canada’s lead and contribute more to meet WHO’s COVAX goals. With a cohesive worldwide effort and commitment from governments to match or surpass what Canada has planned, vaccines can reach even more countries. By establishing $20 billion in support to tackle COVID-19 on the next International Affairs Budget, U.S. leaders can defend those living in poverty from COVID-19 by providing the funds needed to distribute and deliver vaccines globally.
– Zachary Kunze