Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 20, 2021
Ten thousand shots was the hope. The result was 10,470. That’s how many doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered at an immunization clinic at the Thorncliffe Park Community Hub in Toronto on Sunday. Until well after dark, long lines snaked through the parking lot, where people were entertained by DJs before entering the cavernous site. By the end of the day, the clinic, run by more than 50 local community and health care organizations, set a record for the most shots administered at one location on a single day. That record-breaking day in Toronto is a reason why Canada is about to surpass the United States—likely on Thursday—when it comes to the percentage of population with first doses. Right now, Canada has given first doses to 44.7 per cent of its population. In the United States, it’s 47.3 per cent.
First doses is an important metric, for not only do first doses slow the spread of COVID-19 within communities but they are “a sign of people’s willingness to get vaccinated,” says Trevor Tombe, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary who provides daily updates on Canada’s vaccine progress on his Twitter feed as well as his GitHub page. “You can’t get your second shot unless you’ve got your first. And so measuring how many people are willing to get their first shot tells us the state of demand for vaccines in Canada.”
This week alone, Canada will receive 4.5 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine (Pfizer moved up next week’s delivery because of the Victoria Day long weekend). And that has allowed provinces to open the vaccine appointment spigot even wider: As of May 18, everyone aged 18 and older in Ontario can book a time to get their shot on the provincial system.
This ramp-up in Canada’s vaccine rollout has been a long time coming. On March 1, vaccine deliveries were so small that Canada wasn’t on pace to reach 75 per cent of its population having first doses until Nov. 24, 2022. Then, vaccine supply accelerated in April and May. Now, at our current pace, Tombe’s model suggests that Canada should reach 75 per cent by June 19. In addition, 75 per cent of all eligible Canadians 12 and up could have second doses by the second week in August.
Any comparison with the United States interests Canadians. On April 9, when Canada’s per capita rate of new cases surpassed that of the United States for the first time, there were rumblings about what went wrong—Canada’s third wave was intensifying while the United States was seeing a long-term drop in cases as its vaccination effort was yielding results. While Canada’s rate of new cases has improved from the 205 per million population on April 9, the U.S. has dropped even faster. As of May 16, Canada posted a seven-day average of 160 per million while the U.S. is at 100.
But the United States is struggling with the concerning issue of vaccine hesitancy. A late-April poll showed that around a quarter of adults in the U.S. don’t want to get a shot. In Canada, only nine per cent say they won’t get the vaccine compared to 88 per cent who either will or have received a dose, according to a new Angus Reid poll, which bodes well for Canada achieving herd immunity. (Maclean’s)
Meanwhile, The world has reached a situation of “vaccine apartheid”, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday, and was no longer just at risk of that status. “The big problem is a lack of sharing. So the solution is more sharing,” he told a virtual Paris Peace Forum event. (Reuters)
Also, An international humanitarian group is calling on the Canadian government to commit to sharing its COVID-19 vaccine supply, at a time when other low- and middle-income countries are falling behind on inoculation.
The medical non-profit group Doctors Without Borders is asking Ottawa to stop accepting vaccine supply from COVAX, the global pool procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines. It recently announced that it’s short at least 140 million doses, in part because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in India. The World Health Organization, UNICEF and other international agencies have called on G7 countries to donate excess vaccine supplies. While countries like the United States and France have announced plans to donate millions of doses, Canada has yet to make such an announcement. In the meantime, it’s continuing to receive COVID-19 doses from COVAX, with 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca that arrived last week, and more expected by the end of June. (Yahoo News)