Canada has received over 424,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines but only 35 per cent of those doses have been administered by the provinces, with roughly 148,000 Canadians receiving the vaccine so far.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s troubled by the slow pace of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and vows to raise these vaccination numbers with premiers during a conference call later this week.
“I think Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms. That’s why we’re going to continue working closely with the provinces both to deliver vaccines to the provinces and to support them as they need it in terms of getting more vaccines out to vulnerable populations and front line workers as quickly as possible,” Trudeau said.
“Now is the time, with the new year upon us, to really accelerate and that’s certainly what I’ll be talking with the premiers about on Thursday — how the federal government can support and help [with] getting vaccines even more quickly out to Canadians,” he said, citing a planned first ministers’ meeting call.
Trudeau said Canada is expected to have roughly one million doses of the vaccine by the end of January, which is enough to inoculate 500,000 or about 1.3 per cent of Canadians with the two-dose vaccine.
While media outlets spark outrage reporting the shortfalls of the vaccine rollout, it should be noted that the 424,000 doses that Canada has so far received are only enough to inoculate 212,000 Canadians with the two doses required. The 148,000 Canadians that have already received a dose of the vaccine represent about 70 per cent of the total amount of 212,000 people that can be fully vaccinated.
Supply and logistics have remained significant challenges in so it could be considered irresponsible for provincial governments to vaccinate 424,000 people with a first dose and not hold any back in case supply is constrained further throughout January.
While delaying the second dose may be a strategy that could help with maximum initial coverage, the effectiveness of this is understudied and may decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine overall.
Further, if the vaccine effectiveness is diminished through this strategy, is it better to give 1.1 per cent (424,000) of Canadians an unknown amount of protection from the virus or 0.6 per cent (212,000) of Canadians maximum protection?
Canada’s strategy is to vaccinate those in high-risk categories first, which means that any reduction in effectiveness could be extremely lethal.
Especially when compared to the 60% vaccination rate required to significantly combat COVID-19.