Trudeau contends with the uncertainty of Canada’s vaccine supply
In his last two appearances before reporters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserted that the unpredictable messiness of vaccinating the globe against a novel coronavirus should have been expected.
“We knew that there would be some hurdles along the way with unpredictability and increased demand for production,” the prime minister said Tuesday.
On Friday, he explained that “the numbers on vaccine arrivals in this new process where industrial processes are being stood up around the world from scratch for these vaccines — we always expected them to fluctuate a little bit.”
If the Trudeau government’s move to purchase doses in advance from seven different suppliers was supposed to minimize the risk inherent to any one option, it apparently couldn’t eliminate all potential for trouble; including production interruptions for Moderna and Pfizer and the threat of export controls by the European Union.
But if that uncertainty was foreseeable — if a certain lack of control over events was inevitable — it likely should have been a greater point of emphasis from the beginning.
For the government’s sake, it might have prepared Canadians for the interruptions that the Trudeau government has been scrambling to account for over the last week.
For the country’s sake, it might have advanced the conversation about what, if anything, the government could have done differently to counter the increasingly obvious challenges of international vaccine procurement.
For now, Trudeau promises that his goal remains the same; that the two leading manufacturers will produce and deliver enough doses of a vaccine over the next eight months to vaccinate every Canadian that wants to be vaccinated against COVID-19. And, if he and the country are lucky, this will be the last of the major disruptions.
But his reassurances are challenged by both the demonstrated uncertainty of the global supply chain and competing assertions that Canada should somehow be doing better “Canadians deserve certainty and a plan,” Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “Canadians should know when things are going to get better.”
Opposition parties unimpressed
On Tuesday, Trudeau came bearing the promise of domestic vaccine production, at least eventually. The news that Novavax will be able to produce vaccines at a Montreal facility by year’s end — and that the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization will eventually be able to produce 40 million doses annually — is presumably a hedge against further disruptions.
It also might help set Canada up to deal with future needs to either vaccinate against variants of the COVID-19 virus or deal with the next pandemic. But it doesn’t do anything to address the immediate need.-PUNA