Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply and donation strategy
Thanks to a robust vaccine supply strategy, Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. Our supply strategy also accounted for the potential to donate surplus doses to other countries in need, helping to vaccinate people around the world.
On this page
- Procuring vaccines for Canada
- Managing Canada's supply
- Canada's role in helping to vaccinate the world
- Canada's international vaccine distribution
Procuring vaccines for Canada
When the pandemic started, it was not known which vaccines would be successful or when they would be available. Experts therefore advised Canada to secure many different types of vaccines.
To secure early access to safe and effective vaccines for everyone in the country, we set up advance purchase agreements (APAs) with 7 manufacturers:
- Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline
- Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
APAs have the obligations of a contract but are more flexible in structure. This flexibility was needed given the uncertainties around when new vaccines would be developed. Having APAs meant that we could purchase vaccines that didn't yet exist.
The agreements with the vaccine manufacturers also required initial investments to support vaccine research and development, testing and manufacturing.
By signing memorandums of understanding with international sources, Canada was also able to access an early supply of the first vaccines available. We also looked for ways to secure quicker deliveries of approved vaccines.
Canada worked closely with stakeholders at all levels of government to ensure the timely delivery of millions of vaccine doses throughout Canada. Canada's COVID-19 vaccine roll-out succeeded in delivering doses to the Canadian population, including deliveries to rural, remote and isolated communities.
We continue to make sure that Canada is prepared to manage COVID-19 and its possible evolutions. Canada has secured vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax for 2023 and beyond, including options to purchase additional doses if they’re needed.
These agreements also provide flexibility to obtain new generation COVID-19 vaccines, that are developed by vaccine suppliers to protect against mutations or variants of concern, once they’re authorized for use by Health Canada.
All vaccines require Health Canada authorization before they're used to vaccinate anyone in Canada.
Managing Canada's supply
Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is managed strategically based on:
- the most recent scientific data, including regulatory decisions and guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI)
- the needs of provinces and territories, who are responsible for vaccine administration programs
- the identification of surplus doses that can be offered for international donations
To maximize the use of Canada's vaccine supply, we also:
- coordinate transfers of doses between provinces and territories to move vaccines to where they are needed most
- work with manufacturers to ensure Canada’s vaccine supply meets the needs of people in Canada
- monitor for the possibility of shelf-life extensions
- offer vaccines surplus to our domestic needs for global donations, with as much shelf-life as possible
This approach ensures that we have enough vaccine supply for people in Canada to stay up to date on their vaccines, including boosters. It also ensures that Canada has sufficient supply in country to mobilize a large-scale vaccination campaign if needed. And it enables us to provide vaccines to other countries in need around the world.
Despite all of these efforts, there will be wastage if doses expire before they're used or donated. Expired doses will be disposed of in accordance with appropriate handling and storage guidelines.
Canada's role in helping to vaccinate the world
Canada recognizes that providing access to vaccination continues to be one of the most effective ways of controlling the virus.
That’s why, as the world moves beyond the pandemic response, we remain committed to helping low- and middle-income countries strengthen their health systems and their ability to prepare for a future pandemic. This is a critical part of an inclusive and sustainable recovery.
Canada also supported, and continues to support, the most vulnerable populations. For example, as a part of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, during the acute phase of the pandemic, we focus on supporting:
- the different needs of women and girls
- the world’s poorest and most marginalized people
- education, health, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive health and rights
Promoting vaccine equity
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada committed over $3.5 billion in international assistance. This included over $1.2 billion to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator vaccine pillar.
We also supported equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines by:
- donating our surplus doses
- supporting the delivery and distribution of vaccines
- investing in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility
- strengthening health systems, regional production capacity and pandemic preparedness
Canada originally committed to donating the equivalent of 200 million doses by the end of 2022. We exceeded this commitment, donating the equivalent of over 201 million doses, a significant contribution that helped meet country demand for vaccines. This donation included 46.6 million doses deemed surplus from Canada's domestic supply and donated to COVAX, as well as more than 3.7 million doses donated directly to countries through bilateral agreements.
Canada also provided financial contributions to COVAX towards the purchase of the equivalent of 150.7 million vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries.
Over 2023, Canada will continue to support country-led efforts to protect high-risk populations against COVID-19. We will also integrate COVID-19 into routine health services, including through the COVAX Facility and our $317-million signature Global Initiative for Vaccine Equity (CanGIVE). CanGIVE will strengthen health systems and build vaccine manufacturing capacity in 12 focus countries, most of them in Africa.
How the COVAX Facility Works
Canada is committed to sharing our surplus vaccine supply through the COVAX Facility to ensure countries have equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for the highest risk populations. In some circumstances, we have also shared doses directly with recipient countries through bilateral agreements.
Through the COVAX Facility, countries may request COVID-19 vaccines based on their needs. As a donor, Canada is not involved in this allocation process. We work with COVAX and manufacturers to provide donations that meet country preferences for volumes, shelf life and product profile.
Globally, vaccines are now widely available and countries are focusing on priority high-risk populations in line with the latest advice from the World Health Organization. As countries integrate COVID-19 vaccination into routine health care services, Canada remains committed to supporting COVAX in its efforts to increase vaccination for priority groups and remove barriers to international vaccine distribution.
Canada's international vaccine distribution
The following table shows the countries that received surplus doses donated by Canada, either through COVAX or through bilateral agreements. As of February 28, 2023, over 25 million of the doses Canada donated to COVAX had been delivered to countries. The table only accounts for Canada's surplus vaccine doses. It does not include dose equivalents resulting from our financial contribution to COVAX.
Use filters to below options to change the focus of your results in following data table
|Country||Number of doses shipped||Date delivered||Vaccine manufacturer||Mechanism||Shipped from|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||20,000||2021-08-24||AstraZeneca||Bilateral agreement||Canada|
|Trinidad and Tobago||82,030||2021-08-04||AstraZeneca||Bilateral agreement||Canada|
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