BRUSSELS — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there is no single “silver bullet” to suddenly result in vaccines being available around the world.
Speaking following a Canada-EU summit with European leaders, Trudeau says the issue of COVID-19 vaccine patents is complex, as is the broader goal of getting everyone around the world safely vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“It’s not just finding a single silver bullet that’s going to suddenly result in finding vaccines everywhere around the world. There are complexities that need to be worked through,” he said.
The World Trade Organization is in talks about the possibility of temporarily waiving intellectual property rights around vaccines. Those backing the move say by doing so, it would make it easier for developing countries to import the expertise, equipment and ingredients necessary to make their own COVID-19 vaccines.
European leaders have presented an alternative to the idea from Africa and India. They believe a better solution is compulsory licensing, which is when a government OKs someone else making a patent-protected product without the owner’s permission.
“We share the same goal. We want that in a crisis like in this pandemic manufacturing possibilities and capacities rapidly can be bought to a region that is at the moment being not in the position to produce, for example, vaccines. Now the question is what is the best approach,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The Canadian government has confirmed it’s in on the WTO talks around waiving vaccine patents, but after being asked repeatedly, Trudeau has yet to say what Canada’s position is on the matter.
Trudeau has been in Europe since last week attending different leaders’ meetings with the G7 and NATO.
He will spend the last day of his first international trip in more than a year visiting a plant that played a pivotal role in Canada’s early rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Trudeau will visit the manufacturing facility in Puurs, Belgium, where Canada’s supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was produced until the United States started shipping doses early last month.
Around 11 million vaccines produced at the facility were shipped to Canada.
Canada faced some bumps in its vaccination campaign earlier this year when a slowdown at the production plant in Belgium disrupted delivery plans.
This week alone, Canada is set to receive 2.4 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, which has been consistently delivering large weekly shipments since mid-March.
Later Tuesday, Trudeau will fly back to Canada, where his office says he will begin a 14-day quarantine, first in an Ottawa hotel until he receives a negative COVID-19 test result.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2021.