Canada to throw away 13.6 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine

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OTTAWA — Canada will throw away about 13.6 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine because it has found no takers either at home or abroad.

Canada signed a contract with AstraZeneca in 2020 for 20 million doses of its vaccine, and 2.3 million Canadians received at least one dose, mostly between March and June 2021.

Following concerns in the spring of 2021 about rare but life-threatening blood clots from AstraZeneca, Canada focused on using its abundant supplies of mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

In July 2021, Canada pledged to donate the remainder of its supply, approximately 17.7 million doses. But in a statement Tuesday, Health Canada said despite efforts to meet that commitment, 13.6 million doses have expired and will need to be discarded.

“Due to the limited demand for the vaccines and difficulties encountered by recipient countries with distribution and uptake, they have not been accepted,” the statement said.

In total, Canada has donated 8.9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine – 4.8 million doses from its main supply and 4.1 million doses purchased through the COVAX vaccine sharing program.

About 85% of Canadians are considered fully immunized, compared to 61% of the world’s population and only 16% of people living in the world’s poorest countries.

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