VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As COVID-19 vaccines continue to be administered across the country, a new ranking shows Canada is lagging behind many other nations when it comes to just how fast we’re inoculating our population.
According to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker, Canada has slipped to 38th in the world when it comes to vaccination rates per 100 people.
If we include the European Union, Canada slips down by one more spot.
Countries ranked ahead of Canada include some of the nation’s closest allies, including the U.K. and the U.S., which are both in the top 10, as well as countries like Israel, which tops the list, and the United Arab Emirates.
While infectious diseases expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch says Canada could have done better in its efforts, he believes the situation will improve.
“I do appreciate it has been slow, that’s just a matter of accessing vaccinations. But it does appear, based on what we’re hearing, that we will meet our mid-term and longer-term goals, with the longer-term goal of having every Canadian vaccinated by the late summer of early fall of 2021,” he explains. “I still think that’s pretty reasonable.”
Federal officials have repeatedly said it’s expected the country will have enough vaccines for every Canadian who wants one to get a shot by the end of September.
This is despite recent delays in shipments from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — the two approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada at this time.
Bogoch notes the vaccines that we have received have largely been used to inoculate people who need it the most.
“We started vaccinations in mid-December of 2020. Yeah, it’s been slow, but we’ve targeted our highly vulnerable populations and it appears that the taps are really going to turn on in April,” he says.
Without the ability to produce vaccines domestically yet, Canada is dependent on foreign-based companies for its supply.
Bogoch points to the need to improve production capacity here, adding we simply don’t have the buying power of the U.S., the E.U., or the U.K.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in early February that Canada had signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Montreal. However, the new National Research Council biomanufacturing facility where this would happen is still under construction and Novavax’s vaccine candidate is still awaiting Health Canada approval.
The prime minister did not provide a timeline for when Canadians can expect domestic production to begin, only that it would start once the facility is completed.
While Trudeau said recent funding has accelerated construction, work is only expected to be completed by the end of the year.
“We’ve relied on foreign companies in foreign countries to produce and ship [vaccines] to us. Our neighbour, our friendly neighbour, who can produce these locally is not shipping vaccines to us. So when you put this all in perspective, I think we have to just have a realistic conversation about what we were actually going to do in a situation like this and how we were going to do it,” Bogoch tells NEWS 1130. “And when you consider those aspects, I think we’re exactly where you’d expect us to be.”