, 11.26.2020 09:57 AM

My latest in the Sun: the Brits and Americans are getting the vaccine soon – but not you

What if they developed a vaccine — and no Canadians were going to get it?

That, incredibly, seems to be the current reality: within days, Canada’s two closest allies — the United States and Britain — are poised to start providing their own citizens with Covid-19 vaccines.

And Canada just isn’t.

Canada, in fact, can’t even say when Canadians are going to get the potentially life-saving vaccines.

This isn’t some story cooked up by Justin Trudeau-hating conspiracy theorists operating a website across the border. It’s a story that was first reported by the CBC, no less, which is rarely accused of being too tough on the Trudeau Liberal government.

“Two of Canada’s closest allies have laid out plans to distribute new vaccines against the deadly novel coronavirus, with the first shots expected to be delivered in December,” reported the CBC’s John Paul Tasker on Tuesday.

“Canada, meanwhile, has been largely silent on how promising vaccine candidates will be distributed here after Health Canada regulators give them the green light — providing few, if any, details beyond a promise to work with the provinces and territories and buy cold storage.”

Incredible, but true.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting in two weeks to give approval to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. That vaccine has been shown in drug trials to be effective with more than 90% of those who get it. Including seniors.

The FDA is expected to give the go-ahead to the shipping of the potentially life-saving drug the very next day. And millions of Americans will start getting their shots that same week. Twenty million Americans are expected to get the vaccine in December, and 30 million in January

In Britain, the story is largely the same.

The National Health Service has already identified more than 1,000 locations for Britons to receive vaccines. Staff are now on standby there to inoculate millions of British citizens, seven days a week — starting in the first week of December.

In Canada? Coronavirus crickets.

Sure, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) came up with a list of those who should get a vaccine first. And the Trudeau government minister in charge of procurement declared that she plans to buy a bunch of freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be preserved in deep-freeze conditions.

But has Trudeau’s government given Canadians any sense — a clue, even — when we can expect to extend our arms for the vaccines?

Not a chance.

Questioned by CBC — again, it’s the CBC that broke this scandal wide open, not the Conservative Party — Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it was “complicated.” She said the government hasn’t approved a vaccine yet.

Claimed Hajdu, who previously achieved notoriety for saying that the coronavirus risk to Canadians was low: “All of our departments are working right now, around the clock actually, on making sure we have a concrete plan with the provinces and territories, that we are ready to deploy the vaccines as soon as they arrive on Canadian soil.”

Feel better? Me neither.

Public servants may indeed be “working around the clock” on getting a vaccine into millions of Canadians. They may even be “ready to deploy” the vaccines when the precious vials arrive on Canadian shores.

But getting a vaccine into Canadians? Saving and extending lives here?

Well, you’re going to have to move to Britain or the United States for that, folks.

[Warren Kinsella is a former chief of staff to a federal Liberal minister of health.]

30 Comments

  1. the real Sean says:

    Justin wasn’t elected to get things done. He was elected to be polite and apologize for stuff.

  2. Nick M. says:

    Well said.

    I wish at some point this government would just say the buck stops here.

    I remember before Obama took office, and his team screwed by not properly vetting Tom Daschle. Obama said that he ultimately is at fault for this oversight. What a breath of fresh air towards responsibility.

    Yesterday in Question period when asked by the Tory health critic about vaccine delays, Trudeau went on a tangent by blaming Harper. Way short of two tic tacs away from being fresh.

    • Nick,

      One quickly discovers that this Prime Minister’s nickname is certainly not Swifty…they have been in power since 2015 and none of his various Health Ministers felt it was a priority, much less a necessity, to re-establish a robust vaccination production industry across Canada? Sure, Prime Minister, you and your cabinet slept at the wheel but it’s all Harper’s fault!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Doug says:

    Dominic Leblanc was on Power and Politics yesterday pathetically trying to blame the possible delay in vaccination on the Harper government. Allegedly Harper lead to the closure of Canada’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities and exodus of scientists:
    -Harper didn’t “invest” in facilities. Of course, Leblanc failed to mention that governments rarely own pharmaceutical facilities for a number of reasons: owning and regulating a facility would be a conflict, the owners of the actual pharmaceutical are unlikely to license out manufacturing, extremely high quality control demands very specialized resources that government is unlikely to retain
    -the oft repeated lie of Harper “muzzling” scientists allegedly drove them out of Canada. Almost anyone who has held a real job signed a code of conduct precluding them from making any public statements about their work or employer. This restriction is especially stringent when dealing with intellectual property. Any comment about the research is grounds for instant dismissal with cause. Leblanc layered on another lie by claiming Harper’s lack of “belief in science” lead to a brain drain
    -to date, none of the US, UK, and Germany or other democratic countries with vaccine manufacturing capabilities have impose export restrictions. They are not using the legal system to favor domestic demand

    CBC being CBC only countered with the statement that the Liberals have had 5 years to rectify the situation.

    Telford’s Department of Misinformation needs to up its game.

  4. Hey, what was that news blurb about that quickly passed in front of my eyes earlier this week or last? Something about Canada having already “reserved” millions of doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. In the end, guess not…

    So let me get this straight: we “reserved” doses for two vaccines that Health Canada has yet to approve???? Nice going. It sure is “complicated” for the Trudeau government. Par for the course.

    • Yet Another Calgarian says:

      This speaks as much to our federal bureaucracy I think as it does to Trudeau. Look at the PPE stockpile mismanagement. That shouldn’t involve any politicians in terms of day to day management. A pervasive culture of failure and mediocrity covers it nicely.

      Going to be completely unshocked when the feds and the provinces end up in court over the who and how of any vaccine being distributed.

  5. Robert White says:

    If Canadians have to roll up their sleeves for Clinical Trials on an untested vaccine that was rushed through emergency clinical trials I, for one, am more than happy to wait for the USA & EU to run their vaccine regimes just to see if they actually work to reduce line ups for Intensive Care Units in those sovereign nations.

    The Federal Government of Canada has to roll out Clinical Trials according to established protocols. If they breach protocols I will be lambasting them for the errors. And I’m still a Liberal, but if the Liberal Party screws this up I will be an independent forwards.

    RW

    • Jeff Whelpton says:

      Hey Bob,
      I guess your an independent then!

    • Robert,

      As an aside, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when the PHAC’s Winnipeg BSL-4 lab sent Ebola and Henipah viruses to Wuhan. I’m funny that way. I don’t exactly like it when democracies voluntarily send lethal pathogens to authoritarian regimes. Imagine, it all got magically classified as secret after the fact.

      CBC covered it best:

      “It is suspicious. It is alarming. It is potentially life-threatening,” said Amir Attaran, a law professor and epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa.

      “We have a researcher who was removed by the RCMP from the highest security laboratory that Canada has for reasons that government is unwilling to disclose. The intelligence remains secret. But what we know is that before she was removed, she sent one of the deadliest viruses on Earth, and multiple varieties of it to maximize the genetic diversity and maximize what experimenters in China could do with it, to a laboratory in China that does dangerous gain of function experiments. And that has links to the Chinese military.”

      (Gain of function experiments are when a natural pathogen is taken into the lab, made to mutate, and then assessed to see if it has become more deadly or infectious.)
      ______________________________________________
      Just another example of the Trudeau PMO sleeping at the wheel, or perhaps quite deliberately looking the other way.

      • Robert White says:

        Professor Attaran called PM Trudeau a liar for claiming erroneously that Canada can’t get vaccine here because we are not tooled up for capacity like the USA and UK.
        Talk radio host 1310am Rob Snow stated again today that Attaran called the PM a ‘liar’ on his radio show a few days ago, and Lowell Green [retired CFRAam] now claims that MPP Randy Hillier is screaming for answers from Ford on the logistics of vaccinating everyone in Ontario.

        As I understand the situation today, Randy Hillier got arrested yesterday at the Etobicoke demonstration for the BBQ-business guy.

        Something is brewing between the right-wing and Toronto media as it seems they are now fighting like cats and dogs.

        Fun times next week for sure.

        RW

        • The Doctor says:

          I noticed that the Q Anon flags at that demonstration (and there were several of them) were clearly not handmade. They were all the same, nice quality, so obviously purchased from some Q Anon swag store online.

          It’s so true what they say about Q Anon: ultimately it’s yet another way of grifting money out of stupid people.

          • Robert White says:

            Q-Anon must be Information Operations put out by intel spooks USA IMHO. It’s too much like Deepthroat Nixon era to be anything but IO.

            RW

  6. Ted says:

    This is an old story and the Liberals are doing their same bewildering infuriating blathering, making it news when it didn’t need to be.

    Canada doesn’t have and couldn’t quickly produce vaccine production facilities for a Covid 19 vaccine in the time frame required. We were always going to get our supply after the countries where big pharma is headquartered. Canada’s niche in pharmaceutical has evolved over the years into a lot of generic drug manufacturing.

    That seems like a shocking failure of emergency planning, but it predates this government by many years. I heard Navdeep Bains say on the radio, the current government plans to fix the problem, but that it will take some time.

    A conscious decision was made to make strategic orders for likely successful vaccine programs rather than funding what really would have been a hail Mary attempt to reestablish Canadian vaccine research and production capabilities.

    I have no idea why the Liberals can’t communicate this now. I heard Dominic Leblanc tossing an infuriating incomprehensible word salad on the CBC this morning and on this subject, Justin Trudeau is as full of shit as usual.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Ted,

      The Liberal line ain’t worth two-shits. All they are capable of coming up with is that it’s all Harper’s fault. Pretty lame and beyond amateurish.

  7. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Look William, what’s causing undue stress is Canadians knowing full well that they will have to wait well into 2021 before having a realistic opportunity to have access to vaccines. It’s all good and well to let Health Canada do its own knitting but the point is, if the FDA gives the vaccines the go, they should be imported pronto, not on HC’s timetable. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary and exceptional measures. Think out of the box for heaven’s sake!

    • Walter says:

      This all started in the winter and spring when Trudeau failed to comprehend that China could be the source of the problem – and even scolded concerned Canadians as racist. He then partnered with China to find a vaccine while all other Western countries were funding and partnering with companies from democratic countries that follow the rule of law. When China finally snubbed Canada, Trudeau did sign some agreements with these companies, but we were at the bottom of the list.
      The Liberals may be doing what they can now – but they screwed up so bad in the spring that Canada is still in not doing well.

  8. Derek Pearce says:

    Well I’ll just say this– if any government either ordered a pharmaceutical company to keep a vaccine manufacturing facility from closing or opened their own, people would be bitching about big government interfering in the marketplace. It’s a no-win.

  9. Douglas W says:

    PMJT is truly way over his head.

    • Nick M. says:

      This statement actually is making me teary eyed.

      That Canada is entering a bad place and just thinking about the dithering from the top.

  10. Gilbert says:

    It’s in times that these that countries need competent leaders who stop blaming their predecessors for everything.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Gilbert,

      Well, if theoretical next September deliveries of vaccines is the Trudeau government in action at its best, might as well shift policy, intergovernmental relations and roll-out into the hands of chimps at your local zoo. Even they have a self-evident edge over this government…

    • Walter says:

      Five years ago, Canadians decided that we don’t need competent leadership. Having a leader who speaks in cliches and has nice hair is more important.
      Now we live with the consequences of that decision.

  11. PJH says:

    Could this be the Dauphin’s Achille’s heel?……Looking sharp, btw, Mr. Kinsella……

  12. Walter says:

    Trudeau has been incompetent for 5 years. He started this pandemic by trying to do a power grab. Then he signed a vaccine deal with China instead of with a western company.
    Meanwhile, USA signed a deal with Moderna back in the winter to develop the vaccine (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-johnson-johnson-idUSKBN21H1OY ). This was when Trump was theoretically doing nothing.
    So many Canadians decided that it was more important to oppose the orange man, than to hold our own government to account. We deserve this for our collective actions.

  13. Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Those of us who believe that the origins of the COVID-19 are found in nature, but have been biologically manipulated in a lab setting are skeptical, at best, about the universal application of a vaccine or vaccines and their potential long-term effectiveness in crushing this pandemic.

    I would suggest that we need to look at mutation: mutation is a natural ongoing process in any virus. However, in the case of a likely bioweapon, mutation could happen a lot faster and to a greater extent than ever seen before. In addition, one would also expect to see in a virus that has been biologically manipulated some sort of evolving pattern as it mutates. If following serial mutation a clearly decipherable trail develops, then vaccines will be only of limited help. Imagine if the virus serially gains in strength and capacity to resist vaccines, then even limited herd immunity by vaccination will be a remote possibility, at most. Also bear in mind that thus far there seems to be no promising vaccine candidate that could potentially reverse the ongoing effects or kill COVID-19. In short, this virus is a test-run with all the scientific community across the globe watching carefully, most with honorable intentions but quite obviously, some with other motives that are not generally seen as genuinely benign.

  14. Fred J Pertanson says:

    Loblaws has freezers… Taxpayers bought them…

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