Trudeau commits Canada to sharing any extra vaccine doses

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FILE PHOTO: Canada's PM Trudeau talks to a patient after they received one of the first COVID-19 vaccinations at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada will donate COVID-19 vaccines to other countries if it receives more doses than necessary, its Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a television interview.

Reuters reported in November that Canada was in talks to donate shots to lower-income countries, but Canadian officials have not previously made any public commitment.

"As Canada gets vaccinated, if we have more vaccines than necessary, absolutely we will be sharing with the world," Trudeau said in a CTV interview, which is set to air on Sunday.

Trudeau did not outline how donations might work.

Canada has reserved more vaccine doses per capita than any other country. In the unlikely event that all the experimental vaccines perform well in trials, it could access enough doses to vaccinate the Canadian population more than five times over.

It is not yet clear what might be considered an extra dose, or whether Canada would consider exercising options under its purchase contracts in order to donate doses.

Trudeau's comment comes as the COVAX alliance, a global vaccine purchasing program run by the Gavi vaccine alliance and the World Health Organization, said it had gained access to nearly 2 billion doses, roughly doubling its supply.

It also published guidelines for rich countries that may donate extra doses.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Alexander Smith)