Has the Trudeau government fumbled COVID vaccine rollout?

The latest country-by-country data on vaccinations, per 100 people, as of jan. 6.

Canada has fallen dangerously short in its vaccine response in relation to other countries both in regard to acquisition and rollout. Israel leads the world, yet a Canadian Press report published recently demonstrated that,”...Canada has given at least one shot to more than 193,000 people, or 0.52% of the population as of Jan. 6, despite starting a week earlier than Israel...” which has vaccinated some 17.5%.

As of Jan. 8, Quebec had vaccinated 0.73 percent of its population.

An Our World in Data chart, as of Jan. 5, demonstrates that Israel (population nine million) had administered 17.14 COVID-19 vaccination doses per 100 people. The United States, which has 328.9 million people compared to Canada’s 37 million, and has states where we have provinces, is fourth at 1.6 per 100.

Canada is in 10th place at 0.43 per 100, behind Germany (83 million) at 0.44, Italy (60 million) at 0.51, Russia (144.5 million), which has a larger land mass than Canada, at 0.55; Denmark (5.8 million) at 1.09, the United Kingdom (66.6 million) at 1.39, Bahrain (1.5 million) is at 4.02 and the United Arab Emirates (9.6 million) at 8.35.

Vivian Bercovici, the former Canadian Ambassador to Israel, referred to the rollout in Canada as “chaos. It seems that the federal government has failed utterly in its single responsibility — to secure an adequate vaccine supply for the population,” she wrote. “Had they done so they’d be screaming from the rooftops, incessantly. They are not. But they are busy pointing fingers at their provincial counterparts (well, everyone but Quebec) to malign their incompetence with the rollout.”

Her comments highlight another problem aside from the rollout and that is the lack of vaccine doses in Canada. While Israel has received some 8,000,000 doses, Canada has acquired only some 400,000. Other industrialized nations have also received millions. Another danger is that the Trudeau government has not ordered any of the antibody treatments approved by America’s FDA in November such as Eli Lilly’s Bamlanivimab that have proven very effective. Canada has no antibody stock.

Bercovici also noted that, “Israel digitalized fully all health records and systems more than 20 years ago. This institutional preparedness facilitates a successful national vaccine drive. No faxes. No speed dialing the doctor for half a day to get an appointment. No paper.”

The Quebec government has criticized the federal government as well. In his Jan. 6 press conference, Premier François Legault said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has “no lessons to give the provinces,” regarding vaccines, he said. “In the week we receive them, we give them. We don’t have enough doses.” The Trudeau government has centralized all purchases of vaccines and therapeutics but leaves distribution to the provinces. Last spring provinces were allowed to acquire equipment, ventilators and PPEs themselves in addition to the Federal government. The Premier added that Quebec is capable of administering 250,000 doses a week if it had access to that amount.

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather confirmed that the federal government, “...took responsibility for purchasing the vaccine and all associated equipment needed to store and administer the vaccine. Other than vaccine doses themselves, all associated equipment has been purchased and ready to go.We originally had not expected to receive any vaccine doses in December but by the end of the month had received more than 420,000 doses.” But there has been no explanation from Ottawa why many western nations have received millions of does while Canada is so low.

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