Canada will commit to sharing up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in a formal announcement that will come later in the G7 Summit, a senior government official said Friday.
The statement, made on background as the gathering of world leaders got underway, came as pressure increased on the Liberal government to clearly outline its strategy to contribute to a growing international effort to immunize the world’s population more quickly.
The government official was unable to define how much of the planned announcement involved new money — or direct vaccine contributions — and how much will be drawn from what Canada has already contributed to COVAX, the World Health Organization’s vaccine initiative.
The United Kingdom dramatically raised the international stakes on Thursday by announcing a large-scale donation of surplus COVID-19 vaccines to countries in need.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who wants to see the globe fully vaccinated by the end of next year, said late Thursday Britain will donate 100 million doses by the end of the year.
Canada’s timeline is less clear.
The British announcement followed a pledge earlier this week from the U.S. Biden administration to deliver 500 million doses.
Johnson announced the U.K.’s contribution on the eve of the G7 summit.
“I think you have to look at what the U.K. is doing overall because it is colossal,” he was quoted as saying by British media during a waterfront availability.
For weeks Johnson has been pushing G7 countries to set a goal of vaccinating the world by the end of 2022, rather than 2024 or 2025, which is the current goal of health officials.
In a recent interview with the CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, Johnson said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the leaders of France and Germany are keen on the idea and that he has high expectations for the summit.
“We’ll be looking to come up with some big numbers, because, after all, nobody is safe until everybody is safe,” he said.
The world’s leading democracies are expected to announce they will provide at least one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to the world at the G7 Summit, which formally begins on Friday.
Canada expected to make contribution announcement
Canada doesn’t produce any COVID-19 vaccines of its own, but has been criticized by a group of 32 humanitarian agencies for not sharing any doses of imported vaccines.
Last week, International Development Minister Karina Gould told a senate committee Canada will eventually share doses, but at the moment it doesn’t have any excess vaccine because the country is still trying to get every Canadian immunized.
Canada pledges $440M to COVAX
Canada recently doubled its financial commitment to $440 million to help COVAX.
The international agency has been struggling to close off an urgent gap of 200 million doses, which was created by manufacturing delays and because of supply disruptions coming out of India, which is the result of a massive outbreak in that country.