(Ottawa) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent his last day in Europe on Tuesday, thanking local leaders and workers for bringing the COVID-19 vaccine to Canada, saying there was no “solution miracle” that vaccines would suddenly become available in the world.
Mr Trudeau visited a manufacturing facility in Purs, Belgium, where the Canadian Pfizer-Bioentech vaccine was being produced until the start of shipping doses in the United States early last month.
The main message he gave to the people in the factory was: “Thank you”.
Mr. Trudeau repeated this repeatedly during a brief walk around the facility, as well as to Pfizer’s CEO. He heard officers showing him the freezers where the vaccines were stored, and then walked through a special production line to see where the doses were packed and shipped.
About 11.6 million vaccines produced at the facility arrived in Canada after being approved in the country last December.
The Canadian vaccine campaign was hit early in the year when a production slowdown in Belgium derailed a delivery schedule.
Since then, the amount of vaccines entering Canada has steadily increased. This week alone, Canada will receive 2.4 million doses of the vaccine produced by Pfizer-Bioentech, which has been distributing large doses each week since mid-March.
The more rapid vaccination of the world against COVID-19, especially those living in less affluent countries than major democracies such as Canada, was the main mandate for the previous Group of Seven Leaders Summit, which Mr. Trudeau attended in Cornwall, UK.
He said Canada had pledged $ 2.5 million in international aid for the pandemic to buy 87 million doses for poor countries. He announced that Canada would donate nearly 13 million doses through the Global Vaccine Sharing Alliance, also known as Kovacs.
This is a very small amount considering that Canada, with a population of 38 million, has agreements to buy 251 million doses from 1 pharmaceutical company.
Speaking Tuesday after the special Canada-EU summit, Trudeau said it was “complicated” to vaccinate everyone on earth as soon as possible, as evidenced by the relaxation of patent regulations on vaccines against COVID-19.
“It simply came to our notice then. There are complications that need to be addressed, ”he said.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in talks to temporarily relinquish intellectual property rights to vaccines. Supporters of the decision say that by doing so, it will be easier for developing countries to import the skills, equipment and materials needed to make their own COVID-19 vaccines.
European leaders believe that a better solution is mandatory licensing, which gives the government the power to make a patented product for another without the owner’s permission.
European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen said everyone shares the same goals.
“In a crisis like this we want, we can quickly buy opportunities and productive capabilities in an area that is not currently producing, for example, vaccines. Now the question is, what is the best approach,” she explained.
The WTO has confirmed the involvement of the Government of Canada in the WTO patent amnesty negotiations on vaccines, but after repeated questioning, Trudeau has not yet stated what Canada’s position is on the matter.
Trudeau met with the Belgian Prime Minister on Tuesday, thanked him for the country’s efforts on vaccine production and said he had a brief audience with the King of Belgium.
His office said he would return to Canada, where he would begin a 14-day blockade, first at an Ottawa hotel, until he received a negative test result.