By Reuters Staff
TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada will spend C$485 million ($380 million) to support COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines in low- and middle-income countries, including antibody treatments, International Aid Minister Karina Gould said in a statement on Monday.
The funds will make it possible for the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF buy up to 3 million courses of antibody treatments, pending approval.
Two such treatments have been authorized for emergency use in the United States: one from Eli Lilly and AbCellera and another from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.
“This virus will not be fully eradicated until it’s eradicated everywhere,” the government said in the statement.
Funds will go to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, an initiative that was launched by the World Health Organization and its partners, as well as to other global health organizations.
The Canadian government’s announcement includes C$100 million for the WHO, C$45 million for the Pan-American Health Organization and C$75 million to the GAVI vaccine group, partly to fund “a mechanism to equitably reallocate vaccine doses.”
Canada is preparing to administer its first doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The country has reserved enough COVID-19 doses to vaccinate its population several times over, if several leading vaccine projects succeed.
Huge purchases by rich nations have reduced the pool of doses available to countries that do not have such deep pockets, and to GAVI’s COVAX facility, a group purchasing system meant to distribute doses equitably to most countries in the world.
Reuters, citing sources, reported in November that Canada was in talks to donate excess doses through COVAX. Canada has not yet made a public commitment to donate, or said what would be considered excess.
The funds should be allocated within weeks, a spokesman for Gould said.
($1 = 1.2774 Canadian dollars)