Canada has 20 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine than it will need this summer and should speed up efforts to share them, says a non-profit organization that lobbies against world poverty.
"Countries like Canada have way more doses than we could ever use. We currently have enough to vaccinate every Canadian five times," ONE Canadian director Stuart Hickox told Island Morning host Laura Chapin in an interview which aired Tuesday.
The Group of Seven (G7) recently committed to provide one billion vaccine doses for developing countries but that falls far short of the 11 billion needed, said Hickox, who is from Prince Edward Island and has moved back home to work remotely during the pandemic.
"It's like G7 leaders arriving at a raging inferno with garden hoses and buckets," he said, adding that this is not just about charity.
"Science tells us that in order to end the pandemic, everyone needs to be vaccinated."
The 20 million excess vaccine doses Canada is expecting by the end of August would be enough to vaccinate every frontline health-care worker in Africa, Hickox pointed out.
'Good citizen of the world'
While Canada has pledged to provide vaccine doses as part of the G7 commitment, Hickox is concerned about the lack of a plan to deliver on the promise.
He said Canada needs to get those doses to COVAX, the international agency set up to deliver them, as soon as possible.
Donating the vaccine doses will not take away from domestic need, he said; there would still be enough for every Canadian to get two shots.
However, he said, politicians are still nervous about talking about donating vaccines while there are still a significant number of cases of COVID-19 in Canada.
"We need politicians to have the courage to say, 'It's time for us to be the good citizen of the world,'" said Hickox.
"We have enough here. There isn't enough elsewhere, and the pandemic won't end until everyone is vaccinated."
ONE is encouraging Canadians to call their MPs to urge them to get behind donating vaccines to developing countries, Hickox said.
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