Canada ranked 43rd globally in COVID-19 vaccine doses administered per capita

Canada losing vaccine race

Canada is falling even further behind as global COVID-19 vaccination efforts ramp up.

Data compiled by Bloomberg News has the country in 43rd place globally, so far administering just 5.52 vaccine doses per 100 people. Right now, Canada is vaccinating about 62,000 people per day.

For comparison the United States, ranked sixth globally, has administered 24.26 doses per 100 people at a pace of more than two million people a day.

Canada’s pace of vaccination puts it in the same neighbourhood as Brazil, Croatia and the Netherlands.

The rollout of the vaccine in Canada has been hampered by major delays related to a lack of supply. Provincial governments for weeks have said they are vaccinating people as quickly as vaccine shipments come in from Health Canada.

Per capita, Canada was second only to the United Kingdom in terms of contracts signed with vaccine suppliers. The country has purchased, or has purchase options, for enough vaccines to immunize the entire country more than three times over.

But the terms of those contracts remain shrouded in mystery.

Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said last month the deals are covered by sweeping confidentiality clauses, leaving Canadians to wonder why exactly they seem to be so far at the back of the line globally. The government has fought efforts by Opposition parties to have the contracts released.

This week Novavax released a redacted version of its contract with Canada in regulatory filings in the United States. The vaccine maker was the fifth to submit their COVID-19 vaccine to Health Canada for approval, reports the National Post.

Novavax’s deal with Canada is for between 52 and 72 million doses, one of the company’s largest deals globally.

The contract’s details on price and penalties for missed timelines remain redacted in the U.S. filings, but gives the company significant room to miss deadlines.

“Customer acknowledges that the delivery schedule may change due to the impact of several variables including, but not limited to, speed of clinical trial enrollment and accrual of events, manufacturing delays and/or timing of regulatory approval,” the contract reads.

The contact gives Canada the ability to cancel the contract if deliveries continue to fall short, but it is not known if the federal government would be able to recoup the undisclosed upfront payment it made to the company.

The Prime Minister announced a deal last month to have Novavax manufacture some of its COVID-19 in Canada, but the facility in Montreal is still under construction.

Premiers starting to complain

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday the province was being forced to consider spacing out the interval between the two coronavirus vaccine doses, like B.C. already has, due to a lack of supply.

He said an outbreak driven by a new, more transmissible COVID-19 variant started at a seniors' home in Edmonton on Monday just as residents were supposed to be receiving their vaccines.

"They should have been vaccinated weeks ago, like they were in similar settings in the United States, Israel, the U.K. and many, many other countries," he said following a virtual premiers' meeting.

"This is extremely frustrating and I think we have no choice but to expand the interval to get more people covered."

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said his province is moving to the four-month interval because the federal government has done a "disappointing job at best" in quickly getting vaccines to provinces.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister added: "Let's face it: this strategy has become necessary as a consequence of an absence of vaccines."

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Ottawa's vaccine rollout, told a media briefing that nearly three million doses have been distributed to the provinces and territories so far.

"In April, we're anticipating a steep increase in vaccine availability," he said. That includes 23 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines between April and June and at least 1.5 million of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine by mid-May.

with files from the Canadian Press

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