A file photo of a vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (AFP)
A file photo of a vial of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (AFP)

Covid-19: Canada to receive 500,000 doses of SII’s Covishield vaccine on March 3

PM Justin Trudeau said, “I want to express my appreciation for the support and partnership of the Indian government in fighting Covid-19, in helping secure these does for Canadians”
By Anirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Nadim Siraj
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 01:50 PM IST

The first 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) will arrive in Canada on March 3, less than a week after Covishield was given emergency use authorisation (EUA) for adults by the country’s public health authorities on Friday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “I want to express my appreciation for the support and partnership of the Indian government in fighting Covid-19, in helping secure these does for Canadians.”

A total of two million doses - including the first batch of 500,000 to be sent across on March 3 - will be shipped from India to Canada by mid-May. They will first arrive in Toronto.

SII’s partner in this venture is Verity Pharmaceuticals, located in the Greater Toronto Area suburb of Mississauga.

The vaccine was jointly developed by AstraZeneca and experts at University of Oxford.

India’s high commissioner to Ottawa, Ajay Bisaria, has expressed delight over the green signal to the delivery of the coronavirus vaccines, saying, “This is fulfilling the assurance made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Trudeau when the latter called him on February 10 with a request for vaccines for Canada.”

Canada is the first Western nation and the only G7 country to receive vaccines from India under the government’s “Vaccine Maitri” initiative.

The AstraZeneca shot is the third vaccine to be cleared for use in Canada, after Pfizer-BionTech and Moderna. Canada will receive a total of 22 million doses of the AstraZeneca inoculation, which includes the consignment from India.

The North American country will also receive up to 1.9 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as Covax by the end of June, according to an AP report.

Canadian health regulators noted that there were “no important safety concerns and the vaccine was well tolerated by participants”, in making their decision.

Trudeau had called Modi earlier this month with the request and the Indian PM then took to Twitter to say that he “was happy to receive a call from my friend, @JustinTrudeau” and added, “Assured him that India would do its best to facilitate supplies of Covid vaccines sought by Canada.”

Later, Trudeau responded on Twitter that he had a “good discussion” with Modi “on many important issues” and they had “agreed to stay in touch”.

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