Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to reassure Canadians that vaccine deliveries would pick up again in a few weeks and that the overall goal, to have every willing Canadian vaccinated by September, would remain on track.
But it was Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford who bluntly voiced the frustration of many provincial leaders as Pfizer continues to cut its vaccine delivery schedule to Canada.
“We got to be on these guys like a blanket, I’d be outside that guy’s house. Every time he moved, I’d be saying, ‘Where’s our vaccines?’ Other people are getting them, the European Union is getting them, why not Canada? That’s my question to Pfizer, we need your support,” said Ford during a Tuesday news conference.
Canada’s supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine comes from the European allotment and not from nearby manufacturing facilities in the US, since the Trump administration made it clear vaccines would not be exported.
“There’s a plant, a Pfizer plant, six hours in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the Americans,” Ford said. “My American friends help us out, we need help once again as we did with the PPE. You have a new President, no more excuses we need your support, and we look forward to your support and that’s a direct message to President (Joe) Biden, ‘help out your neighbor.'”
Ford made a direct plea to President-elect Joe Biden for a million vaccines for Canada.
The incoming Biden administration is unlikely to release vaccine doses for export in the short term as Biden transition officials have stated they are uncertain of the current supply of vaccines available in the US.
Canadian government officials made it clear Tuesday that the shortfall in deliveries from Pfizer would result in a “major reduction” in vaccinations in the coming weeks.
“There will be a considerable impact across all provinces,” said Major Gen. Dany Fortin, the Canadian commander in charge of the vaccine rollout, adding, “the overall impact over the next month is in the range of a 50% decrease of expected allocation.”
The pandemic curve in Canada is beginning to show signs of bending downward after weeks of lockdowns. But hospitalizations remain high, and officials say the overall death toll during this second wave could eventually be more dire than the first.
“We’re all contributing to reducing the burden on the health system, supporting our health care workforce in the difficult task of planning and implementing mass vaccine rollout and giving vaccines a longer runway to begin to work as access expands to reach all Canadians,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer during a Tuesday news conference.
Tam added on average, about 140 virus-related deaths are reported in Canada each day.