Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has wrapped up a mini-summit with leaders of the European Union that was part business, part thank-you for co-operation in securing Canada a share of European-manufactured coronavirus vaccines.
There has been a lot of discussion between Canada and the EU over vaccine supply, which in the early stages proceeded in fits and starts.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, took pains on Tuesday to emphasize that the EU had shipped 16 million doses of vaccine to Canada, which is 60 percent of Canada’s total so far.
He insisted the EU is ramping up production to meet global demand and sharing it through COVAX, the international vaccine organization that ensures doses are distributed equitably.
Increasing vaccine supply, vaccine sharing and getting the world immunized as quickly as possible were prominent features of last weekend’s G7 Summit in Cornwall, England.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population by this time next year, an effort that would require 11 billion doses of vaccine.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a goal of immunizing 70 percent of the world’s population by this time next year, an endeavour for which it needs 11 billion doses.
There’s been a lot of debate and criticism over the EU’s opposition to temporarily waiving vaccine intellectual property protections.
Up until this point, the EU has said there are other solutions that can be explored to increase access to affordable coronavirus vaccines.
Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada has been active in the global discussions and is committed to seeing a resolution and the goal of getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“There are complexities that need to be worked through,” Trudeau said.
On Tuesday, following the meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau also announced a new bilateral Dialogue on Health with the EU. The aim is to enhance engagement on priority health issues outside of direct pandemic policy, such as mental health.
The concept of vaccine passports also came up on Tuesday, highlighting differences between Europe and Canada. The EU has in the works a system of vaccine passports to help restart international travel, while Canada does not.
Prime Minister Trudeau ended his trip with a tour of the Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium, that has been manufacturing most of the vaccines being shipped to Canada. It was an opportunity to say thank you to the workers producing the vaccine under extraordinary circumstances.
Prime Minister Trudeau returned to Canada on Tuesday night and was quarantined.
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