Canadians are frustrated with lack of vaccines, with just 2% of adults fully vaccinated

Canadians are frustrated with lack of vaccines, with just 2% of adults fully vaccinated


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I can’t believe how quickly the tides turned on the handling of the coronavirus here in the US. I spent so much of last year looking at other countries and the measures they were taking to contain the virus. With our numbers climbing and the walls closing in around us, it felt like we were the only nation whose government left us out to dry. Now that we have an administration which is backing science and exceeding its pledge to vaccinate as many citizens as possible, I stopped paying so much attention to everyone else. It turns out, our neighbors in Canada are feeling the squeeze as they sit on a meager 2% vaccination rate. And folks are wondering who’s to blame.

After a bumpy start, Canada’s vaccination rollout has picked up pace in recent weeks. Still, the sight of the United States — a neighbor with which the country frequently compares itself — awash in vaccines and racing ahead to inoculate the population is fueling frustration.

Ontario, Canada’s most-populous province, is also among its hardest-hit. Cases have blown past a January peak. Its intensive care units are under such strain that children’s hospitals are admitting adults.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has blamed the current surge in cases and hospitalizations on the federal government, which he says has failed to procure enough vaccines. His lockdown measures, meanwhile, have provoked an angry backlash across the province. Infectious-disease experts accuse him of easing restrictions prematurely, against their advice.

The global vaccine rollout has been defined by inequity.

High-income countries, which account for just 16 percent of the world population, have locked up more than 50 percent of near-term supply, according to researchers at Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center.

Canada has reserved access to more than enough doses for its population, striking advance purchase agreements with multiple pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Moderna. But it has struggled to get actual vaccines.

A key problem is that Canada, unlike the United States, has limited domestic capacity to make coronavirus vaccines. For now it’s relying entirely on deliveries from manufacturers abroad.

A severe global supply crunch, unexpected manufacturing delays, poor communication about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine from officials at all levels of government and contracts that put the delivery of most doses in the second and third quarters of this year have hindered the rollout.

The gap in the fully vaccinated is stark: 25 percent of Americans vs. just over 2 percent of Canadians. Canada is stretching the interval between first and second doses to at least four months to get a first dose into as many people as possible more quickly.

Some here wonder why the United States — which, like Canada, has secured hundreds of millions more doses than it needs — isn’t doing more to share.

“It doesn’t help that our best friend and neighbor did not give us any vaccine,” said Isaac Bogoch, an infectious-disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

Nor does it make much sense, he said, that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is being produced in Michigan, but Canada’s doses are coming from Europe.

“I can shoot a hockey puck from Ontario and hit Kalamazoo, yet our Pfizer is coming from Belgium,” Bogoch said. “I mean, we love you, but help a brother or sister out.”

The Biden administration announced last month that it would “loan” Canada 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has not yet been authorized in the United States. There are tens of millions more doses in its inventory.

[From The Washington Post]

I can see why Canadians are so frustrated. It’s difficult to figure out why this is happening. And the fact that the vaccination rollout is going smoother in the US is compounding the issue. The article talks a little more about Doug Ford’s lockdown measures and why people are so upset about them. He’s done things like closed schools but left businesses open. He also closed outdoor playgrounds, even though studies showed they were safe. Then he tried to deflect blame to the federal government for not getting enough vaccines. But according to this article, Canada did procure enough, they just can’t get them.

They interviewed a few people who had watched their dual citizen neighbors drive over to Michigan to get vaccinated. I can see how that would be disheartening. I’m unclear on what the US can actually do, though. The AstraZeneca solution is a good one. I’d like to think we are doing everything we can.

Our thought are with our Northern neighbors. I had no idea their hospitals were spilling over into the children’s hospitals. Whatever is going on politically, I hope Canada’s order arrives and that 2% grows very soon.

A post shared by Justin Trudeau (@justinpjtrudeau)

A post shared by Justin Trudeau (@justinpjtrudeau)

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