Braid: In high-stakes vaccine game, Alberta’s luck has gone cold

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These shortages — or absences — are caused by alterations to the Pfizer plant in Puurs, Belgium, not the looming EU decision to prohibit vaccine exports from its member countries.

That could make Canada’s COVID-19 plight far worse.

Details of the EU plan are expected to be published Friday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said a ban on exports to Canada “will be very disturbing, of course.”

Even the talk of a ban shows Canada’s hapless dependence on the kindness of strangers.

The director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, nails it when he says: “As we speak, rich countries are rolling out vaccines, while the world’s least-developed countries watch and wait.

“With every day that passes, the divide grows larger between the world’s haves and have-nots.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) attends a session on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response of the WHO Executive Board in Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 5, 2020. Photo by Christopher Black/WHO

We don’t generally think of Canada as underdeveloped. We are, in fact, quite rich.

But we’re 20th in the world for vaccinations given. In vaccine production we’re at zero, like dozens of poor countries.

The Moderna vaccine supply is still coming in, but it’s little more than a trickle.

In all of February, Alberta is scheduled to get just over 50,000 Moderna doses. AHS can administer that many in a week.

Hindsight acuity far short of 20-20 tells us that Canada should have maintained production facilities for vaccine. Now, we depend on Europe and the U.S., just as vaccine nationalism is setting in.

The proposed EU controls on vaccine exports threaten an escalation in international hostility.

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