U.K. won't take vaccines from COVAX program, says high commissioner
Canada remains the only G7 country to access vaccines from the vaccine-sharing program
The United Kingdom won't access its share of vaccine doses from the COVAX program, says British High Commissioner to Canada Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque.
In an interview with Power & Politics, d'Allegeershecque told host Vassy Kapelos that while the United Kingdom is one of the biggest contributors to COVAX, it still doesn't see the need to access its share of the vaccine doses.
"I don't think there are any plans for us to access the doses, but we were in a slightly different position from Canada," she said.
The federal government has faced criticism from charities and opposition parties over its decision to access Canada's share of doses from COVAX — a global vaccine-sharing initiative jointly co-ordinated by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.
In a media statement, Green Party leader Annamie Paul said she was "embarrassed" by Ottawa's decision to access vaccines from a program primarily designed to help developing countries.
But the federal government defended its action, saying COVAX has always been part of the government's efforts to procure vaccines.
"COVAX has two streams. It has the self-financing stream for countries like Canada to purchase vaccines through and then it has the advance market commitment for donations to be made for countries who can't purchase them," said International Development Minister Karina Gould in a Power & Politics interview.
The high commissioner also noted that Britain's vaccine rollout is more advanced that Canada's program.
"We've already vaccinated 15 and a half million people, which is something like 23 per cent of the population," said d'Allegeershecque. "So at the moment, we're able to access the doses that we need without having to draw from the COVAX facility."
Britain also has the capacity to manufacture its own vaccines domestically.
As it stands, Canada could receive up to 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX program by the end of March.