A few days ago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced to Canadian’s that the nation will receive the first initial round of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2020. The announcement from Ottawa stated Canada would receive 249,000 Pfizer vaccines by the end of December, and we could see injections starting as early as next week.
This announcement has instilled massive amounts of hope into Canadian’s across the country. The Pfizer vaccine is distributed in two injections, 21 days apart. This means roughly only 125,000 people will receive the first round of dosage. This a much smaller number than expected, sparking controversy of how Canada will acquire the amount necessary to immunize the entire nation.
During this announcement, PM Trudeau informed Canadians that we must wait for more vaccines to be shipped, as Canada cannot produce this vaccine domestically. Noting that the countries with the means of production will focus on their own citizens before turning to help other countries, and Trudeau suspects we simply have to wait our turn. Canadians are not too excited to be on the sidelines during this time, and many feel quite angry with the government.
However, Canada does not have the facilities to mass produce this vaccine on the scale required, and it is not the fault of the Liberal Government today. This has been a long-standing issue for Canada. During the H1N1 pandemic, Canada struggled to produce vaccines, largely in part to the production mechanism the nation has in place. Once upon a time, Canada had top quality domestic vaccine production, but according to Earl Brown, an infectious disease expert and a former member of the H1N1 vaccine task group in Canada, the business model the nation used was flawed. The companies derived from universities hardly brought in any profits, so they were sold under former PM Brian Mulroney and his government’s privatization program. The labs Canada have now hold little capacity and smaller production lines, making the mass production of vaccines extremely difficult. This means that even if Canada itself creates a working vaccine, there is no way to produce it domestically at the scale necessary.
So, what does this mean for Canadians? Well, we have to simply wait our turn. Canada’s primary focus is to start vaccinations in priority populations before immunizing the entire nation. Since we can’t mass produce the vaccines ourselves, we must rely on European and American companies to ship their vaccines to Canada. However, like the PM highlighted in his announcement, the countries where these companies are will focus on their own citizens before honouring their agreements with Canada and the other countries that are on the sidelines. Canada will see a gradual increase of vaccines but having 2 per person will make this wait that much longer.
However, there is still hope. The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a plan to hopefully have every Canadian immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021. The 21-page plan outlines a few different timelines, but the goal is to have the process start now in December and run through the end of 2021, with 3 million people immunized by March 2021 and the public having access to vaccines as early as April 2021. However, for now, Canadians must wait for it.
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