India, last month, launched the world’s biggest vaccination drive with two made-in-India shots.
The Serum Institute of India will ship the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Canada in less than one month, Serum’s chief executive said on Monday. “As we await regulatory approvals from Canada, I assure you, @SerumInstIndia will fly out #COVISHIELD to Canada in less than a month; I’m on it!” CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Twitter, referring to a brand name for AstraZeneca’s vaccine. India boasts of several vaccine manufacturing facilities and is fast emerging as a key supplier to the world. Canada, which has recorded more than 825,000 coronavirus cases and 21,000 deaths so far, does not yet have a vaccine manufacturing facility of its own and is reliant on foreign suppliers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week assured Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau that India would do its best to supply Canada with the vaccines, potentially easing shortages faced in the country. Canada has so far ordered vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will judge this week how fast England can exit COVID-19 lockdown after vaccinating 15 million of its most vulnerable people, but the health minister said death and hospital admission numbers were still too high.
With nearly a quarter of the United Kingdom’s population now inoculated with a first dose of a COVID vaccine in a little over two months, Johnson is under pressure from some lawmakers and businesses to reopen the shuttered economy.
“We’ve got to watch the data,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News. “Everybody wants to get out of this as quickly as we safely can, and both as quickly, but also as safely, are important.”
“The question is a judgement of how quickly and safely, how quickly we can do that safely. That’s the judgment that we’re making this week, looking at the data, ahead of the prime minister setting out the roadmap, on the 22nd,” he said.
The biggest and swiftest global vaccine rollout in history is seen as the best chance of exiting the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed 2.4 million people, tipped the global economy into its worst peacetime slump since the Great Depression and upended normal life for billions.
Britain has vaccinated 15.062 million people with a first dose and 537,715 with a second dose, the fastest rollout per capita of any large country.