Canada’s unrealistic expectations for vaccine rollout have now turned into vaccine anxiety. Turns out we did not actually buy the vaccines the politicians thought they had.
What a difference a few months makes. Back in December, we were told Canada led the world in vaccine reservations. All told, government had reserved six vaccinations per capita, much more than the four per capita in United Kingdom and United States, and well ahead of the European Union. (See left bars in blue, above.) Turns out our magnificent national planning was an inglorious illusion.
As of March, our ability to actually vaccinate Canadians places us in the lower tier of developed nations. We are far behind UK, US and EU. How did things go so wrong?
Last week, I suggested our US friends could learn a lot from Canada about running good elections. Well, fair is fair. We could really learn a lot from our American neighbors – or at least the Biden administration – on how to effectively deliver on vaccine promises.
Canada is neither very strategic nor transactional. We are not much of a power player on the international scene. We don’t really belong to any economic or trading block. We are also hampered by a lack of strong relationships with pharmaceutical firms and domestic manufacturing capacity. For the vaccine orders, we tried to spread our risk with reservations of seven different vaccines, rather than putting our eggs in just a few baskets. When all was said and done, wishful thinking turned into stark reality.
Canada has been quite successful at fighting the pandemic through strong public health measures. We have been far less successful in vaccinating our people.
Vaccine Anxiety in Alberta
I am 70 years old. I have finally been able to get my first shot appointment on March 21st. That’s the good news. Now the bad. Because of our shortages, Alberta has now decided to delay the second shot for up to16 weeks or four months! So, at best, I won’t be fully vaccinated until August.
Meanwhile, a friend of mine will be fully vaccinated by May because we did not introduce the new delay policy until March 10th, which was after he got his first shot. My American peers are getting their second shot next week. Sigh.
Canada has a reputation for being “nice”. Perhaps we should try being less polite and more forceful in our public policy and international relationships. We have spent over a billion dollars on vaccines and received few in return.