LETTER: Canada needs to show leadership on vaccine availability

Global vaccine equity must become a priority to put an end to the COVID19 pandemic. 2.8 billion people, largely in low and middle income countries, remain completely unvaccinated against COVID-19.

While over 80 per cent of Canadians have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses, just 15 per cent of people in the Global South have received one dose. The pandemic is not ‘winding down’. This pandemic will continue until we have vaccinated the world. The global economy has been affected; 250 million people have lost their jobs. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on marginalized communities around the world; the WHO estimates that 100 million people have gone into extreme poverty.

There has been increased gender-based violence and many young girls may never return to school. Until the pandemic is controlled everywhere, new variants will continue to emerge, endangering us all. A global effort now will help us prepare for future pandemics. I am very disturbed by the fact that Canada has only shared 15 million vaccine doses of the 200 million it has committed.

We are allowing our excess vaccines to be wasted or sending them too late, when they are about to expire.

This is simply unacceptable.

It’s time for Canada to show its commitment to a COVID-free world by joining the more than 100 governments at the World Trade Organization that fully support the proposed suspension of intellectual property barriers so that countries in the Global South would not be dependent on “trickle down charity” from wealthy countries (the TRIPS waiver).

I urge the Canadian government to show leadership in global human rights by ensuring that vaccines, treatments, patents and manufacturing knowledge are available to all countries.

Sharon Vanclief

On behalf of GRANquinte

Grandmothers Advocacy Network