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Millions locked again as Canada plans vaccination failure
Blair Gable via ReutersBack in December, before the COVID-19 variants changed the course of the pandemic, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau bragged about having sourced enough potential vaccines to protect a population four times the size of Canada. But four months later, less than two percent of Canada’s 38 million residents are fully vaccinated, and large parts of the country are being put back into lockdown thanks to a brutal third wave. Canada has recorded nearly a million cases and 23,000 deaths since the pandemic began. Trudeau had hoped to vaccinate the population by June but now says any Canadians who want a vaccine will get one by the end of September. Canada is one of the few major economies in the world that has not tried to make its own coronavirus vaccine. In the meantime, the variants are gaining ground. On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly warned that even fully vaccinated Americans should avoid traveling to Canada. And if they are used for essential purposes, they should be tested three to five days after their return. “This is not the news everyone of us wanted, but hospitalizations are increasing, ICU beds are filling up, variation is spreading, and even people who convinced themselves they had nothing to worry are becoming sick, “said Trudeau at a press conference Tuesday. “Even if the sun is shining and the weather is getting warmer, COVID-19 is not yet through with us,” he said, describing the third wave of the pandemic as “very serious”. More worryingly, most of the new cases that are occurring in the hospital’s intensive care units are increasingly younger patients, according to Canada’s leading health expert. “While COVID-19 continues to affect people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are highest among those aged 20 to 39,” Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a statement Wednesday. “We are also seeing an increased number of adults under 60 being treated in hospital, including intensive care units, for COVID-19.” So how can a country that has ordered more vaccines per capita than anywhere else in the world now be in such trouble? Canada does not manufacture vaccines on its territory – its own or others – and the imported doses simply weren’t delivered. Canada’s state-owned vaccine maker was privatized in the 1980s and eventually bought by French company Sanofi, whose own vaccine efforts stalled. Trudeau announced last week that Pfizer will finally deliver a million doses a week after the US clears exports as it is clear there will be enough supplies for Americans first. AstraZeneca has also promised to ship 20 million of its increasingly controversial vaccines, which should also help kick-start the painfully slow rollout. Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are also approved for use in Canada but have yet to be shipped in significant quantities. Trudeau came under fire by disgruntled Canadians after early admitting that the country wouldn’t be number one for vaccines because they weren’t producing locally. When the EU restricted vaccine exports, Canada again paid the price for missed deliveries. The Biden government has not yet committed to exporting to Canada or Mexico, both of which are suffering from shortages. Read more at The Daily Beast. Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.