TORONTO: A consignment of half-a-million doses of the India made Covishield vaccines arrived in Toronto today, fulfilling an assurance given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Canadian counterpart Prime Minister Trudeau in February.
The AstraZeneca vaccines were airlifted to Canada from India on a commercial cargo flight.
These vaccines are the first tranche of 2 million vaccines that are to be supplied by May as part of a commercial agreement, facilitated by the two governments, between the Serum Institute of India and Verity Pharmaceuticals of Canada.
High Commissioner of India to Canada Ajay Bisaria, accompanied Federal Minister of Public Services and Procurement Ms. Anita Anand to receive the consignment at the Innomar warehouse in Toronto.
Minister Anand leads Canadian efforts to procure vaccines and played a key role in concluding the deal with the Serum Institute.
Bisaria congratulated Verity CEO, Howard Glase, on this pioneering deal and said, “India is proud to support Canada’s vaccination program. With more than 60 percent of global vaccine manufacturing capacity, India believes in vaccine internationalism and is providing a healing hand as the world recovers from this deadly pandemic.”
The High Commissioner added that the supply of vaccines reflected the strategic partnership between India and Canada and underlined India’s commitment, as the pharmacy of the world, in helping the global family combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Prime Ministers of India and Canada had spoken on 10 February when Prime Minister Trudeau had informed Prime Minister Modi about Canada’s requirements of COVID-19 vaccines from India.
Prime Minister Modi had assured the Canadian PM that India would do its best to support Canada’s vaccination efforts.
India has viewed the COVID-19 pandemic as a global humanitarian crisis and has used its advanced pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capacities to provide personal protection equipment, medicines and respirators to other nations as assistance in their respective battles with COVID-19.
India’s Prime Minister, while addressing the United Nations in September 2020, had assured the world that India’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capacities would be shared with the rest of the world.
India presently has over 60 percent of the global vaccine production capacity. India is undertaking the largest immunization programme in the world with 16 million vaccinated already and 270 million expected to be covered by July.
India has balanced domestic requirements of vaccines with overseas commitments. India has, so far, provided vaccine doses to more than 40 other countries across the world as part of its Vaccine Maitri initiative, both as gifts and on a commercial basis.
As a member of the GAVICOVAX alliance, India has also pledged to supply an additional
10 million doses to African countries and 1 million doses to UN health workers.