General

Why Canada is falling behind in Covid vaccinations

Why Canada is falling behind in Covid vaccinations
Henry

Canada has secured the world's largest number of potential Covid vaccine doses per capita - but it's struggling to get its hands on some of those doses and to get jabs into arms.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised an "enormous increase" in doses coming to Canada of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the only two currently authorised for use in the country.

He is under pressure from critics who say he has not delivered vaccines fast enough, and has promised that all Canadians who want a vaccine will get one by the end of September.

Canada's inoculation drive began 14 December, and the country has so far given just over 1.18 million doses. It currently stands at 40 in global rankings of doses per 100 people, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Just over three out of 100 Canadians have received at least one dose, compared to about 14 in the US and 21 in the UK.

There have been over 823,000 confirmed Covid cases in the country, and over 21,000 deaths.

Why is Canada lagging behind?

Canada was criticised at the end of last year for buying up multiple times the supply it needs to cover its population.

It has signed deals with seven vaccine suppliers - Moderna and Pfizer, as well as ones with pending authorisation like AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson - for a total of over 400 million doses.

But it seems it wasn't positioned for priority delivery of the two authorised jabs.

That's partly because the country decided to invest in vaccines from European factories, afraid that the US, under former president Donald Trump, would issue export bans.

media captionWATCH: Pfizer v Oxford v Moderna – three Covid-19 vaccines compared

But European factories are struggling with supply and recently it has been the EU, not the US, that has been threatening those bans.

Canada lacks domestic production capacity for vaccines.

There have been delivery delays, with reduced or cancelled orders, in recent weeks for both the Moderna and Pfizer inoculations.

One count by Maclean's magazine suggested Canada's current supply is behind by about one million doses.

As of this week, 2.43% of the population had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Three vials with different vaccines against Covid-19 by (L-R) Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZenecaimage copyrightAFP via Getty Images

Almost 12% of people over 80 and just over 55% of priority healthcare workers have received at least one jab, according to government data.

Canada is expecting six million doses by the end of March, a deadline Mr Trudeau has said suppliers expect to meet.

Delays have 'hurt' Trudeau's Liberals

There are indications Canadians - many who have been under strict winter lockdowns - are frustrated with the slow pace of vaccinations.

"Delays in the delivery of vaccines appear to have hurt the Liberals," said Canadian polling firm Abacus Data on 5 February.

"Government approval, the prime minister's image, and vote share are all down over the past few weeks. Simultaneously, negative perceptions of the government's handling of the vaccination file have risen sharply."

Provincial premiers have expressed disapproval.

On Thursday, Manitoba announced a bid to buy two million doses of a coronavirus vaccine candidate in early trials, bypassing Ottawa. Alberta has also suggested it will seek out its own vaccine supplies.

And Canada found itself defending its decision to draw on a supply of coronavirus vaccines from a global inoculation-sharing initiative known as Covax, which pools funds from wealthier countries to help buy vaccines for themselves and low-income nations.

Beverly Coburn and husband John both receive their first dose of Moderna vaccineimage copyrightToronto Star via Getty Images
image captionCanada has prioritised vaccinating the elderly in long-term care homes

Canada is the only member of the G7 group of rich countries listed as a Covax beneficiary at this stage.

What efforts are being made to fix the issue?

On Friday, Mr Trudeau announced that Canada will be getting some Pfizer doses ahead of schedule and has bought four million additional doses of the Moderna vaccine.

He said he understands the "anxiety" about the recent interruptions.

In a bid to boost domestic production, Canada announced last week that it signed its first deal to allow a foreign coronavirus vaccine, developed by Novavax, to be manufactured locally.

However, that vaccine is still in phase three trials and the Montreal production facility remains under construction.

Additionally, the country has authorised six doses to be taken from each vial of Pfizer's vaccine rather than the originally intended five.

Trending News

New Year snow flurries fall across England

New Year snow flurries fall across...

Many parts of England have seen snow flurries accompany the arrival of New Year. Areas which welcomed in 2021 with several centimetres...

Covid in Scotland The people who have lost their lives to Covid 19

Covid in Scotland The people who have...

As Scotland's coronavirus death toll passes 6,000 and continues to rise, we are sharing the stories of some of those who have...

Week in pictures 5 11 December 2020

Week in pictures 5 11 December 2020...

A selection of powerful news photographs taken around the world this week. image copyrightJacob King / Reutersimage captionMargaret...

Huddersfield phone mast fire put residents at risk

Huddersfield phone mast fire put residents...

A phone mast fire led to dozens of people being evacuated from their homes in Huddersfield in the early hours.It is not yet known what...

Coronavirus Who is still flying

Coronavirus Who is still flying...

media captionInside the almost deserted Heathrow airportLondon's Heathrow airport normally has about 600 flights landing on an...

When is tax dodging illegal

When is tax dodging illegal...

There are a lot of rash statements being made about whether or not the K2 tax avoidance scheme used by Jimmy Carr was "legal".The...

Our Latest Blog

Click to read Biden election Mike Pence welcomes senators bid to derail result

Biden election Mike Pence welcomes senators bid to derail result

US Vice-President Mike Pence has welcomed an effort by a group of senators to refuse to certify Joe Biden's presidential election...

Click to read Inauguration 2021 What happens on the day Biden is sworn in

Inauguration 2021 What happens on the day Biden is sworn in

Joe Biden is US president-elect. But the Democrat won't officially make his move to the White House until inauguration day - a...

Click to read Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell s homes vandalised

Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell s homes vandalised

Vandals in the US have attacked the homes of the leaders of the two houses of Congress on the eve of a new session and the swearing-in...

Click to read Veteran US broadcaster Larry King in hospital with Covid

Veteran US broadcaster Larry King in hospital with Covid

Veteran broadcaster Larry King, 87, has tested positive for coronavirus and is being treated at a hospital in Los Angeles, according...

Click to read Policeman buys family food instead of arresting them for shoplifting

Policeman buys family food instead of arresting them for shoplifting

A US police officer who was called out to arrest a family suspected of shoplifting instead bought them some food so they could have...

Click to read Suspected Islamists kill dozens in attacks on two Niger villages

Suspected Islamists kill dozens in attacks on two Niger villages

Suspected Islamist militants have attacked two villages in Niger, with reports of dozens of civilians killed. Around 49 died and 17...