Sick of lockdown? Want your life back? Get the vaccine. That is, if it’s available. Last Friday, Pfizer announced it would be shipping Canada only half the number of vaccines originally planned for next month, as it retools its production facility in Belgium. On Tuesday, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who oversees the federal vaccine rollout, said Pfizer has now deferred all shipments to Canada for next week.
Canada was supposed to receive 735,150 doses between Jan. 18 and Feb. 14, following the 600,000 doses delivered to date. Not anymore. Provincial governments are now scrambling to rework their vaccination plans — at a time when the pandemic is raging and a more contagious strain of the virus is spreading.
Not all of Pfizer’s clients have to wait that long. When the delay was announced, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen “immediately called the CEO of Pfizer.” The result? Europeans will wait just one week for their shipments to return to normal levels, while Canada will wait four weeks.
Why is Canada at the back of the line? Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner dumped it squarely in the lap of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “It’s up to the prime minister to explain to Canadians why they won’t be able to get vaccinated for months, while European countries have minimal delays in receiving vaccines … why we might be looking at many more months of lockdown — with the lost jobs, time with families, and mental-health challenges that accompany them.”