Upon disruption in delivery of Pfizer vaccines to Canada, officials request US assistance
An interruption in the delivery of COVID vaccines to a North American country has occurred.
According to CNN, on Tuesday (Jan. 19) Canadian leaders were told that Pfizer would not send the country any vaccine doses next week due to an ongoing manufacturing disruptions at its facility in Belgium.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to reassure Canadians that vaccine deliveries would pick up again in a few weeks and that the overall goal, to have every willing Canadian vaccinated by September, would remain on track.
Despite these assurances, Ontario's Premier Doug Ford bluntly voiced the frustration that multiple provincial leaders felt as Pfizer continued to make unwanted edits to its vaccine delivery schedule to Canada.
"We got to be on these guys like a blanket, I'd be outside that guy's house. Every time he moved, I'd be saying, 'Where's our vaccines?' Other people are getting them, the European Union is getting them, why not Canada? That's my question to Pfizer, we need your support," said Ford during a Tuesday news conference.
CNN reports that Canada's supply of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine comes from the European allotment and not from nearby manufacturing facilities in the US, since the Trump administration made it clear vaccines would not be exported.
"There's a plant, a Pfizer plant, six hours in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the Americans," Ford said. "My American friends help us out, we need help once again as we did with the PPE. You have a new President, no more excuses we need your support, and we look forward to your support and that's a direct message to President (Joe) Biden, 'help out your neighbor.'"
According to CNN, Ford made a direct plea to President-elect Joe Biden for a million vaccines for Canada.
But the incoming Biden administration is unlikely to release vaccine doses for export in the short term as Biden transition officials have stated they are uncertain of the current supply of vaccines available in the US.
Canadian government officials expressed concerns that the shortfall in deliveries from Pfizer would result in a "major reduction" in vaccinations in the coming weeks.
"There will be a considerable impact across all provinces," said Major Gen. Dany Fortin, the Canadian commander in charge of the vaccine rollout, adding, "the overall impact over the next month is in the range of a 50% decrease of expected allocation."
Canada's COVID-related hospitalizations remain high, and officials say the overall death toll during this second wave could eventually be more dire than the first.
"We're all contributing to reducing the burden on the health system, supporting our health care workforce in the difficult task of planning and implementing mass vaccine rollout and giving vaccines a longer runway to begin to work as access expands to reach all Canadians," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer during a Tuesday news conference.
Tam added on average, about 140 virus-related deaths are recorded in Canada each day, CNN reports.