Canada is dumping about 13.6m doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, because of a slow take-up by its citizens.
The decision to dump the vaccine also stems from the fact that many countries have not taken up the donation offer made by Canada, which signed a contract with AstraZeneca in 2020 to get 20 million doses of its vaccine.
Only 2.3 million Canadians received at least one dose of it, mostly between March and June 2021. Following concerns in the first half of 2021 about rare but potentially fatal blood clots caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine, Canada focused on using its ample supplies of the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
In July 2021, Canada promised to donate the rest of its procured supply, about 17.7 million doses. However, by Tuesday (July 5), Health Canada said that despite efforts to meet that pledge, 13.6m doses have expired and will have to be thrown out.
Health Canada reported, “due to limited demand for the vaccine and recipient country challenges with distribution and absorption, they were not accepted.”
In all, Canada donated 8.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – 4.8 million doses from its main supply and 4.1 million doses that it bought from the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme.
About 85 per cent of Canadians are considered fully vaccinated, compared with 61 per cent of the world’s population and just 16 per cent of people living in the world’s poorest countries.
New cases are on the rise in Portugal, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Denmark due to the more infectious new Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.
COVID infection levels in the UK have risen by more than 30 per cent in a week.
Dr Benjamin Davido, an infectious diseases specialist at the Raymond-Poincaré hospital outside Paris informed, “The pandemic is accelerating again. It is vital that we maintain stable immunity through booster shots.”