Canada's Vaccination Rollout Will Lag 6 Months Behind U.S., Europe: Forecast

Daniel Tencer
·Business Editor, HuffPost Canada
·3 min read
(Photo: Amanda Perobelli / Reuters)
(Photo: Amanda Perobelli / Reuters)

The majority of Canadians may have to wait six months longer than Americans and Europeans for their COVID-19 vaccine, a new forecast says.

In a report released Wednesday, the U.K.-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) warned it will take longer to immunize the world against the novel coronavirus than expected, with many middle-income countries not seeing a COVID jab until 2023, and lower-income countries waiting until 2024, “if it happens at all.”

Wealthy countries, including Canada, are expected to have their most vulnerable populations vaccinated by the end of March of this year, the EIU report predicted.

Watch: EU threatens export controls on vaccines. Story continues below.

But when it comes to the general population, the U.S. and European Union can expect their mass immunization programs to be done by the end of this year, while other developed countries, including Australia, Canada and Japan, will only achieve that by mid-2022.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is produced in the U.S. and Belgium, the AstraZeneca vaccine is produced in the U.K., and the Moderna vaccine in the U.S. and Switzerland.

Shipments of Pfizer’s vaccine, including to Canada, were unexpectedly delayed this month because of production slowdowns at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which is being expanded to handle the expected production of 2 billion vaccine doses this year.

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Tensions between Canada and the European Union erupted this week when Germany asked the European Commission (EC) for powers to block exports of EU-produced vaccines. The rule would require drug makers to get government approval before shipping vaccine doses out of Europe.

At the same time, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said the commission is planning to set up an “export transparency mechanism” that would allow Europeans to see where shipments of EU-produced vaccines are going. Such a move could pressure drug makers into prioritizing European countries.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that the situation in Europe is worrying, but he is “very confident” Canada will get the doses it contracted for. He noted that shipments of the Moderna vaccine remain on schedule. Moderna’s vaccines, which are produced in Switzerland, would not be subject to an EU export ban.

Trudeau reiterated the government’s position that all Canadians who want a vaccine shot will be able to get one by September.

The EIU report noted that wealthy countries have pre-ordered 6.4 billion doses of various COVID-19 vaccines ― the principal reason the report points to for the slow roll-out in lower-income countries.

Canada leads the way on advance purchases of vaccines, having bought enough to vaccinate the entire population five times over ― more than any other country surveyed in the EIU report.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada and has been updated.