To say that Canada desperately needs access to a Covid-19 vaccine is an understatement. Once a vaccine is created, it is vital that our representatives in Ottawa do everything they can to ensure we have access to it.
Unfortunately, Canada’s vaccine procurement process has been murky, and it increasingly looks like we will be at the back of the line when a vaccine is brought to the public.
As explained in this Maclean’s article, our friends in the EU and the US are quickly making deals with the seven companies who are leading the charge on vaccine development. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Canada. Our prospective vaccine deal with CanSino has been officially called off. And while we do have tentative deals with both Pfizer and Moderna, the details of each agreement are not public, so we don’t really know how many doses are being secured. This is strange because both the US and the EU are openly announcing their contracts as they are made. Just today it was announced that the EU has made a 336 million Euro deal to secure at least 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Right now, AstraZeneca’s vaccine is the clear frontrunner, and is likely going to be the first vaccine authorized for use. Canada doesn’t have an agreement with AstraZeneca, which is especially problematic given that the US, EU, UK, Russia, Brazil, India, Japan and Egypt all have inked agreements for access.
So, why are we behind, and why isn’t the government releasing details on how many doses are secured? Well, in May this op-ed for the Financial Post explained that drug procurement changes, made in July, would ultimately put Canada at the back of the line for vaccine access. Unfortunately, it looks like that prediction is coming true.
Ottawa needs to do better. Lives and the economy are depending on it.
As the Conservative MP for Edmonton Strathcona in the Erin O’Toole government, I’ll be a strong voice at the table pushing hard to make this happen.
- Rick Peterson
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