UN envoy Bob Rae urges Canada to share additional vaccines with the world

Canada’s envoy to the United Nations says Canada needs to share more of its surplus COVID-19 vaccine with less fortunate countries.

Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, told The Canadian Press on Thursday that while Canadians may have been looking inward lately because of the federal elections, they cannot lose sight of the fact that the pandemic will not end in unless more is done to help less fortunate countries.

“We have to recognize that we have to keep looking for ways that we can distribute more of the surplus that we have now in Canada,” Rae said.

It is in Canada’s national interest to do more internationally due to the fact that the country’s economy depends on international trade and the emergence of new variants, Rae said.

“Half of our GDP comes from trade. We are as affected as any country in the world, due to our level of integration, not only with the US economy, but with other economies in the world,” Rae said in a New York interview, where the meeting of world leaders of the UN General Assembly takes place this week.

“We know that these variants are spreading and growing largely because we have not been able to get enough vaccines in enough arms around the world. And I hope that there will be greater recognition in the national public opinion of the fact that The problem that Africa has, or that you have Asia, it’s not really your problem.

“It’s our problem too.”

According to the Our World In Data project, which tracks COVID-19 cases and vaccines globally, 49.87% of people in Asia have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 35.14 are completely vaccinated. Africa stands at 6.29% with at least one dose and 4.08% fully vaccinated.

In Canada, 75.8% of the total population has received at least one dose, while 69.8% of the total population is fully vaccinated.

The UN meetings included a pandemic summit on Wednesday hosted by US President Joe Biden to spearhead a 70 percent global vaccination rate by this time next year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in the pandemic summit and endorsed Biden’s initiative.

Canada needs to share more surplus COVID-19 with the world, says UN envoy Bob Rae. #CDNPOli # COVID19

Edwin Ikhuoria, African executive director of the international advocacy group ONE Campaign, said the Biden summit was an important step in highlighting the current problem of low vaccine implementation in the poorest countries.

“Too many front-line health workers around the world have not yet received their first doses. That means that the curve is not flattening, the virus will continue to spread, mutate and threaten the world community,” Ikhuoria said.

“Countries like Canada have committed to sharing their additional vaccines, and we celebrate those promises, but they must be delivered with delivery and transparency.”

Ottawa has promised to donate a total of 40 million doses so far, but does not say exactly how many have been delivered.

Canada needs around 11 million doses to fully vaccinate all Canadians over the age of 12 who are not yet vaccinated, and it has more than 18 million doses available to cover that. Vaccines for children under the age of 12 are not yet licensed.

Documents published by the COVAX vaccine exchange alliance, the Pan American Health Organization, and some individual country websites suggest that Canada has already donated nearly three million doses of vaccine to 10 countries in Africa, South America, Central America. and the Caribbean, but Canada only publicly confirmed a donation of 82,000 doses to Trinidad and Tobago.

More than two million of those doses came from the allocation Canada purchased through COVAX, while the remainder were direct donations from the Canadian supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine through bilateral agreements.

An official in the office of the Minister for International Development, Karina Gould, could not explain why Canada had not released any of the donations, other than the 82,000 doses of AstraZeneca shipped to Trinidad and Tobago on August 12. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to discuss the matter publicly.

The Canadian official said there was no deadline for the 40 million dose commitment and that timing depended on a number of factors, including legal agreements with recipient countries and vaccine providers, and ensuring the recipient country’s capacity. to administer vaccines sooner. expire.

But in Thursday’s interview, Rae suggested that the time for delays had come and gone.

“We have to keep going. We have to deliver on what we said we would do. We have to understand the importance of doing more.”

As the former prime minister of Canada’s largest province, Ontario, and a former acting leader of the federal Liberal Party, Rae said he recognizes the internal pressure all governments face to vaccinate their own populations first, before looking abroad for help others.

“But I think we also have to understand that it is actually in our global personal interest, as well as our moral interest, to make sure everyone is vaccinated as quickly as possible.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 23, 2021.


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