Canada to lend Mexico H1N1 vaccine
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 | 3:02 PM ET
Canada will lend Mexico five million doses of H1N1 flu vaccine, the federal government announced Wednesday.
The vaccine doses will help bridge Mexico's immediate needs, but it is not a donation. Mexico is expected to replace the doses by the end of March.
"We are privileged that we are in a position to support Mexico's pandemic response efforts," Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a release.
"The immediate response to Mexico's request by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments serves as testimony to the special relationship that exists between Canada and Mexico."
Mexico's government placed orders for H1N1 flu vaccine with several manufacturers but the bulk of the order will only be available at the end of January, the Public Health Agency of Canada said.
Canada bought 50.4 million doses of vaccine in August, when it seemed people would need two doses of vaccine. Studies now suggest that only young children need two doses.
Vaccine need in developing countries
The Public Health Agency estimates that between 40 and 45 per cent of Canadians have been vaccinated. Demand for H1N1 vaccine has dropped in Canada and internationally.
Many other developed countries have pledged H1N1 vaccine to the World Health Organization to redistribute to developing countries without vaccine contracts.
In mid-December, federal health officials said they planned to make a decision about what do with leftover vaccine in about two weeks. Options included selling some to countries such as the U.S., or donating the bulk to WHO to pass on to developing countries.
"If you really want to hold a mirror up to our nation, you might ask the question why we're lending and not just giving," Dr. Ross Upshur, head of the University of Toronto's Joint Centre for Bioethics, said when he heard the news that Canada would be lending vaccine doses to Mexico.
"What does that say about us? We're not using the vaccine that we have, we've got a surplus, but we're not big enough just to simply give?"
The Netherlands, Spain, France and Germany are among those that have publicly acknowledged they are looking to either sell excess vaccine or scale back their orders.With files from The Canadian Press
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