Canada To Donate 5M Doses Of H1N1 Vaccine To WHO; Agency Has Received Commitment Of 200M Vaccines

The Canadian government on Thursday announced the country would donate five million doses of H1N1 vaccines to the WHO from the country’s current surplus, the Canadian Press reports (Branswell, 1/28). “[T]he donation will help the Geneva-based international body in its efforts to redistribute the vaccine to developing countries that couldn’t afford their own supplies,” the Globe and Mail reports (Alphonso, 1/28).

“The WHO said Thursday that 200 million doses of H1N1 vaccine have been committed to its vaccine redistribution effort. Of that, 94 million doses are currently available to be sent to recipient countries once they have met all the requirements for receiving vaccine. The remainder of the doses are still in production,” the Canadian Press reports.

“Despite the fact that the WHO had hoped to start distributing donated vaccine in late November, so far only two recipient countries, Azerbaijan and Mongolia, have received deliveries of the vaccine,” writes the news agency. The article outlines several reasons for the delay and includes a list of the countries that have donated H1N1 vaccines to the WHO thus far (1/28).

The Canadian government will also donate $6 million [$5.6 million USD] to support the WHO’s response to the pandemic, CBC News reports. “We are fortunate to be in a position to contribute H1N1 flu vaccine to the WHO to help developing countries now that we have met Canada’s immediate needs,” Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement (1/28).

“Even after this donation to the WHO, Canada will be left with tens of millions of unclaimed doses,” the Globe and Mail notes (1/28). The government is weighing several options for what to do with the extra vaccine, including “making an additional donation to the WHO, donating directly to a country or countries or possibly selling some of the excess doses. In addition, the government is looking into whether some of the vaccine might be turned back to manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, said [a government] spokesperson, who asked not to be named,” the Canadian Press adds (1/28).