50% of Canadians have now received at least 1 COVID-19 vaccine dose

Half of the Canadian population has now received at least one dose of a vaccine to protect against the COVID-19 disease.

Canada hit the milestone on Saturday, with 20,328,984 doses of the approved COVID-19 vaccines having now been administered.

That means 50.01 per cent of the population has now received at least one shot, according to COVID Tracker Canada.

The news comes five months after the first vaccination was administered in Canada.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated?

Canada has a population of about 37.7 million people. Currently those aged 12 and up are eligible to receive a novel coronavirus vaccine.

According to Our World in Data, just over four per cent of Canadians are fully vaccinated, meaning they have received two doses of a shot.

On April 13, Canada hit a milestone when 20 per cent of the population had received at least one COVID-19 shot.

Canada’s mass vaccination effort has ramped up in the last several months as more shots roll into the country.

Click to play video: 'Canada could donate excess AstraZeneca COVID-19 doses to other countries, Anand suggests' 8:53 Canada could donate excess AstraZeneca COVID-19 doses to other countries, Anand suggests

Canada could donate excess AstraZeneca COVID-19 doses to other countries, Anand suggests

On May 16, Canada’s Procurement Minister Anita Anand confirmed the country would receive 4.5 million doses this week.

As of Thursday, 23,083,012 vaccines have been delivered to the provinces and territories, according to Health Canada.

Vaccine timeline

Health Canada approved the first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech on Dec. 9, 2020.

Days later on Dec. 14, the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Canada.

The second COVID-19 shot, from American pharmaceutical company Moderna, was given the green light by Health Canada just nine days later.

Read more: COVID cases in Canada tracker: how many new cases of COVID-19 today?

In February, the agency approved a viral vector vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca and Covishield, and in March another shot from Johnson & Johnson was given the OK for use in Canada.

How does Canada compare?

Canada, lacking domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity, has relied entirely on shots from abroad to vaccinate its population.

Initially, plagued by repeated delays from manufacturers and caught in a competitive global market, Canada fell behind its closest allies — the United States and the United Kingdom — on vaccine rollout.

In March, the U.K. announced half of the country’s total population had received their first dose. America announced they had hit the milestone in mid-April.

To date, the U.K. and the U.S. have fully vaccinated 32.5 per cent and 38.93 per cent of their populations, respectively, according to the latest tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Read more: Half of U.S. adults have now received at least 1 jab of COVID-19 vaccine

However, as vaccines roll more steadily into Canada, the country now ranks among the top G20 countries.

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Further, Canada has secured options to purchase more than 400 million COVID-19 vaccines for the country — more than enough shots for all Canadians.

The federal government has said it will donate extra vaccines in an effort to promote global vaccination against the virus.

Speaking to The West Block’s Mike Le Couteur on Sunday, Anand said the government has “committed to donating excess doses.”

“Our prime minister has mentioned this, I have, and [International Development Minister Karina] Gould and [Health Minister Patty] Hajdu are all on the same page in terms of the need to donate excess doses that Canadians aren’t using, so we are thinking of all of the options relating to any excess doses.”

The United States on Monday announced it would be sharing 20 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the coming six weeks. This is in addition to 60 million shots the country pledged to share in April.

Biden’s announcement comes as World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for more sharing, saying Monday that the world had reached a “vaccine apartheid.”

“The big problem is a lack of sharing. So the solution is more sharing,” he told a virtual Paris Peace Forum event.

A ‘one-dose summer’ in Canada?

While vaccination efforts continue, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a press conference last week that the current COVID-19 restrictions must remain in place until cases across the country go “way down.”

“We all want to have a summer where we can see our loved ones and invite friends over for barbeques,” he said.

Read more: Health care job vacancies in Canada are soaring despite COVID-19 demand. Here’s why

Trudeau said, though, that in order to have that summer, cases will need to drop “with more screening, testing and contact tracing.”

“We need to successfully limit community transmission,” he said.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: World has entered stage of ‘vaccine apartheid’, WHO head says' 1:42 COVID-19: World has entered stage of ‘vaccine apartheid’, WHO head says

COVID-19: World has entered stage of ‘vaccine apartheid’, WHO head says

Trudeau also said at least 75 per cent of Canadians will need to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before public health measures can be lifted.

“And we need to keep ramping up those second doses,” he said. “If we can do this, we can have a more normal, better summer.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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