Fact-Sheet: Does Canada Really Need More COVID-19 Vaccines?

Where does Canada stand when it comes to vaccines? How many vaccines have been given? How does it compare to India?

3 min read
What is Canada's COVID vaccine plan?

As confusion arose about what really was the conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau around vaccines, we looked into Canada's vaccine strategy.

A release of the call by the PMO here in India indicated that Canada had sought to import vaccines from India and India would look into the request. PM Modi tweeted about his call saying he had, "assured him (Trudeau) that India would do its best to facilitate supplies of COVID vaccines sought by Canada." The Canadian PM office release says, "The two leaders agreed to work together on access to vaccines. The leaders also recognised the need for continued global coordination to respond to the pandemic and to promote recovery.”

But where does Canada stand when it comes to vaccines? How many vaccines have they booked? What vaccines have been approved in Canada? Where do they stand when it comes to distribution? How does it compare to India?


How many vaccines has Canada booked?

Canada was among the first countries in the world to approve for emergency use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. According to this article by Bloomberg, Canada has booked more vaccines than any other country in the world and has enough vaccines to inoculate their population four times.

It further says Canada has secured vaccines to inoculate 154 million people. Its population is 36.7 million.

That's enough doses for more than 400% of its population, ahead of the U.K.’s 295% and Australia’s 269%.

What vaccines have been approved by Canada?

According to a Health Canada release, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved for emergency use in Canada. The application for AstraZeneca's vaccine is under final stages of review. The country is also evaluating Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines.

A private pharmaceutical company in Canada has signed a deal to procure the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine from Serum institute, reported Reuters.

Where are they placed when it comes to Vaccine distribution?

This is when things begin to look more complicated. Canada was among the first countries in the world to start inoculating its population, but their distribution has hit a snag. Canada currently ranks 17th in vaccine distribution, well below other developed nations. Distribution was apparently hit when Pfizer stalled production in its Belgium plant for upgrades. That plant is now fully functional but vaccine delivery could take some time to catch up.

As of this reporting, according to Bloomberg's vaccine tracker, Canada has vaccinated 1.7 % of its population with at least one shot. In the US 10.5 % of the population has received the first shot, in the UK 19.5 % and in Israel 40.3 % of the population has received the first COVID jab.

How Does Canada compare to India?

India gave emergency use approval to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, being manufactured in India by Serum Institute, and Bharat Biotech's Covaxin only in the beginning of January. Distribution started mid January and India has so far given the first jab to nearly 6.6 million people. Canada on the other hand has inoculated 1.1 million people. India ranks 5th in total number of people vaccinated with the first shot, compared to Canada's 17th rank.

But when it comes to total population coverage, Canada still remains ahead.

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