Written by: Michelle Young, News Editor
As Canadian vaccination rates rise, 17.7 million of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be donated to COVAX, an initiative that distributes vaccines among “low- and middle-income countries.” This comes after a surplus in supply. The World Health Organization (WHO) said vaccine distribution is becoming increasingly urgent.
“Many provinces stopped offering AstraZeneca as a first-dose option,” said CBC News. This was due to concerns of side effects, as the vaccine has been linked to rare blood colts. According to CBC News, “The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) also stopped recommending it as a second dose.” This resulted in a drop in demand for the vaccine.
There has been mixed information on mismatching vaccines. While NACI recommended mixing mRNA vaccines, WHO advised against it, claiming there was not sufficient evidence to suggest it was safe. It is now “up to Canadian provinces to decide whether they will mix and match.” The government has not specified whether Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will be donated.
Conservative MP Garnett Genuis noted Canada should not donate vaccines “it does not recommend for Canadians.” He added, “The government needs to clarify how they view the AstraZeneca vaccine, whether they believe that it is as effective as other brands, and why they are choosing to transfer this brand as opposed to others.”
In response, International Development Minister Karina Gould said there is a demand for vaccines in countries in the Global South and it’s necessary to administer as many vaccinations as possible. UNICEF Canada added AstraZeneca is preferable because it’s logistically easier to transport, as it does not require extreme refrigeration. 43% of Canada’s population has been fully vaccinated, with 68% having received one dose.