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Canada wins vaccine lottery. Other countries are not so lucky.
Canadians are very lucky. Just months after the vaccination campaign was beset by politicians and experts like a disaster, the country of 38 million people had received 23 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by Thursday morning. Millions of additional doses are expected in the coming weeks. Canada caught up with the United States this week in the share of the population that received a first dose. In terms of total doses administered per capita, Canada ranks third in the G20 and seventh among 37 OECD countries. According to a tally released this week by Blake Shaffer, an economist at the University of Calgary, Canada ranks 13th among 151 countries in the world with more than one million people in terms of doses administered. Canadians can feel good about their luck. But any celebration must be tempered by the fact that not everyone is so lucky – and the fact that COVID-19 will remain a threat as long as it circulates anywhere. “Just because you were born somewhere in a country with fewer resources doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to life-saving treatments,” International Development Minister Karina Gould said in an interview broadcast on Sunday. morning at the CBC. Rosemary Barton Live. The Liberals will have to live up to those words. And now that there are fewer countries ahead of Canada in the vaccine race, it might be easier for Canadians to see how many countries have always been behind us. Vaccine anxiety at the start of 2021 The panic of a few months ago was not entirely unjustified. Even though a stampede of each country for itself is a terrible way to immunize the world’s population against a global threat, Canadians could be forgiven for wanting their government to behave respectably in unseemly competition. But the most catastrophic predictions were obviously premature and the metrics for measuring success had to be properly calibrated. It never made much sense, for example, to compare Canada to countries like Seychelles, a country of 100,000 people that used a Chinese vaccine that is not approved for use here. It is also fair to wonder if the federal government should have done some things differently to ensure a faster or more abundant supply – although there is still no general agreement on what these things could have been. Thousands of people lined up outside the Thorncliffe Park community center to receive the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto on April 24, 2021. (Alan Habbick / CBC) But the experience of the past six months has shown Canadians how fickle global immunization can be. . Some countries – like the US, UK, and Israel – had advantages that were difficult to replicate. Canada’s supply was briefly compromised because a factory in Belgium was closed for retooling. In the panic, there was an unrecognized question: Why would the average Canadian be more entitled to a vaccine than the average citizen of any other country on Earth? Wealth Has Its Privileges “I think the time has come for Canadians to be grateful and understand the privilege we hold as one of the wealthiest countries,” said Ananya Tina Banerjee, professor in the Department of Epidemiology , biostatistics and occupational health at McGill University. Banerjee – who has family in India, the current global epicenter of the pandemic – tweeted this week that vaccination should not be touted as “Vaccination Olympics” between Canada and the United States. When vaccine distribution is measured on a continental basis, disparities become glaring. In North America, 56.4 doses were administered per 100 people, according to Our World In Data tracking. Europe is second with 41.4 doses. A Kashmiri doctor in protective gear takes a nasal swab sample from a nomad to test for COVID-19 in Budgam, southwest of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 (Dar Yasin / AP ) For South America, the rate drops to 23.3 doses. In Asia, it is 17.6 doses. In Africa, only 1.97 doses have been administered per 100 people. Measured in terms of wealth, high-income countries administered 52.3 doses per 100 population, while low-income countries administered 0.64. Robyn Christine Waite, director of policy and advocacy for Results Canada, said this type of inequity is not unique to COVID-19. “There have long been deadly divisions [between higher and lower income countries] in health outcomes and access to services such as the tools needed to control and treat disease, “Waite said.” The only thing I will say is that the pandemic has definitely brought inequalities to light. “In the case of HIV and AIDS, for example, antiretroviral drugs arrived in Africa long after such treatments had been available in North America and Europe. Enlightened personal interest Waite suggested that COVID-19 could be “pushed to the corners of the world” eventually and forgotten among the rich. countries, becoming a “neglected disease of poverty” like AIDS, malaria or tuberculosis. Mitchell Hammond, professor of history at the University of Victoria, a said earlier outbreaks of diseases like smallpox and polio offered examples of what we would now call “vaccine diplomacy” by the United States and the former Soviet Union. For now, the immediate and ongoing crises within their own borders have made it more difficult for some countries to help others, although China has emerged as a vaccine exporter. But Hammond identified two distinctions that could motivate the na Rich tions to do even more now: the interconnectedness of the modern world and the fact that COVID-19 has shown an ability to produce new, more dangerous variants. Beyond the obvious moral argument, it is an argument in favor of self-interest. Until COVID-19 is eliminated everywhere, it threatens everyone. A doctor treats an oxygen patient suffering from COVID-19 in a ward for coronavirus patients at Martini Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 (Farah Abdi Warsameh / AP) Canada has contributed 440 million dollars to COVAX (a program that allows high-income countries to buy vaccines for themselves and for low-income countries) and $ 1.3 billion to the COVID-19 Tool Access Accelerator ( ACT) of the G20, which distributes vaccines and other supplies. Rich countries, including Canada, are also under pressure to give up intellectual property rights to vaccines and help transfer technology. Canadians themselves have already benefited from sharing vaccines. In March, the United States agreed to loan Canada 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Previously, Canada accepted some of its assigned doses of COVAX. In an ideal world, the global immunization effort could have been coordinated by a program like COVAX. Countries like Canada that have made their own deals with pharmaceutical companies have been accused of harming COVAX. The Trudeau government has promised to share Canada’s excess doses and Gould told Rosemary Barton Live that there may be more to say about it “soon enough”. As Waite suggests, Canada could now defer or forgo the remainder of its COVAX allocation. To date, Canada has received approximately 900,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX. That would let another million doses arrive in the coming weeks. “[Procurement Minister] Anita Anand should make this happen as soon as possible, “Waite said. With the country now enjoying the good fortune of a solid vaccine supply, Canadians should be ready to help the rest of the world catch up. delay.