Canadian vaccine procurement ‘a joke’

29 March 2021

Ontario premier Doug Ford has slammed Canada’s federal government procurement of Covid vaccines as a “joke” in the face of shortages.

At a press conference Ford accused the federal government of “dropping the ball majorly” in terms of securing enough vaccines for Ontario’s citizens. 

“We’re expecting some Moderna. We’re supposed to get it this week. It’s the third time now it’s been delayed... The AstraZeneca that we were supposed to get out into the pharmacies, we don’t even have a date, we don’t have a clue. How can you plan when the feds aren’t even giving us a date?

“There’s going to be a point next week... that pharmacies have run out,” Ford said.

“Enough is enough. This is becoming a joke. We need more vaccines simple as that and we’ve shown the people of Ontario, we have the capacity and we have the infrastructure… We have hundreds of thousands of people waiting in line and at the end of the day, they’ve [the federal government] dropped the ball majorly.”

Ford’s criticism comes as it is estimated that just over 5m vaccine doses have been doled out in Canada, against a population of 37.59m, according to spatial analytics firm ESRI Canada. 

Anita Anand, Canada’s procurement minister, confirmed 1.5m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on loan from the US were set to arrive in Canada by truck on Tuesday 30 March.

The minister said the doses formed part of a surge in vaccine deliveries set to take place over the coming weeks.

“We have said from the beginning that the first quarter of this year would represent a period of increasing supply as vaccine manufacturers ramped up production, and this would be followed by significant supplies coming to Canada. We are now seeing that supply surge and it is set to continue,” Anand said. 

Last week, prime minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” over EU export controls that could impact Canadian supplies of the vaccine. Canada currently relies on the EU for almost all of its vaccine doses.

Anand continued: “We are closely monitoring the global environment, including export restrictions in a number of jurisdictions. Given the profound period of global demand for vaccine, there will continue to be bumps along the way and we will continue to work every day to ensure that vaccines arrive in this country.”

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