Canada PM says U.S. very open to helping other nations with COVID-19 vaccines

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
David Ljunggren
·2 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The United States is "very open" to helping other countries procure COVID-19 vaccines and conversations about how to do so are continuing, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday.

The United States will have enough COVID-19 vaccine for every adult by the end of May, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday. The initial goal had been end of July.

Canada's target is end-September and critics, who complain about the slow vaccine rollout so far, say Trudeau should ask the United States to permit shipments across the border.

Trudeau told reporters it was clear from his conversations with Biden that Washington understood the best way to combat COVID-19 was to do so worldwide.

"By stepping up on the COVAX facility internationally, by looking at how they can be helpful around the world, (they are) very open to helping out other countries and those conversations will continue," he said.

The COVAX program co-led by the World Health Organization is designed to ensure equitable vaccine distribution worldwide.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he was hopeful the United States will be able to share COVID-19 vaccines.

Later on Wednesday, Canada's advisory panel on immunization recommended that to make the most of limited supplies, the gap between the first and second doses of the Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc vaccines should be extended to four months, up from six weeks.

"Canada will be able to provide access to first doses of highly efficacious vaccines to more individuals earlier," the panel said on its website. The provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have already announced a four-month gap.

The six-week gap was already a deviation from the way the vaccines were tested. In clinical trials, two doses of the Pfizer vaccine were giving three weeks apart and the Moderna shots four weeks apart.

Canada has recorded a total of 22,045 COVID-19 deaths compared to some 513,000 in the United States.

A first batch of 500,000 vaccine doses from AstraZeneca Plc arrived on Wednesday. These had not been included in Ottawa's initial plan, Trudeau said, noting regulators were also examining other vaccines.

"We are very optimistic that we are going to be able to accelerate some of these time lines," he said.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell and Bill Berkrot)