Canada’s Vaccine Procurement Strategy

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When it comes to COVID-19 vaccination programs, like many countries Canada also lacks domestic capacity. Steven MacKinnon, Quebec Liberal MP believes Canada’s vaccine procurement strategy is the second best. He said that Canada will spend more than $1 billion on vaccine procurement to obtain 429 million doses from multiple vaccine manufacturers. He believes that given the conditions, it was the next best thing in the arsenal of the federal government. According to MacKinnon, the federal government will buy from pharmaceutical companies only from the locations that could supply Canada the quickest.

The parliamentary secretary to Procurement Minister Anita Anand also believes that Canada’s decision was the “second best”.  She told MP’s that building domestic manufacturing and producing leading vaccines was not an option for Canada. She explained further that all vaccine manufacturers Canada had approached have declined their offer, due to a limited capacity.

Vaccine Procurement Strategy

In January there was a shortage of delivery, as Canada relied on other countries. The opposition has been heavily criticizing the federal Liberals for the procurement approach since Canada fell significantly behind a number of other countries.

As a matter of fact, Canada still plans to invest in local bio-manufacturers in the long-run. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government had signed a memorandum with Novavax to produce COVID-19 vaccine at a new Montreal facility. The earliest predicted date for starting the production is fall. Other Canadian facilities that also want to scale up will not be making vaccines until next year either.

“Of course Canada wants to be in on biomanufacturing… that was our original motivation and of course we continue to follow through on that,” MacKinnon said.

COVAX is a global initiative for sharing vaccines among countries. Before the end of June Canada will receive something between 1.9 and 3.2 million doses of AstraZeneca. However, the latter still needs to be approved first. Canada is one of the leading donors to this program. It has already spent $440 million on COVAX.