Why Canada is falling behind in Covid vaccinations

(BBC) – 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 last 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.

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.

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.