Covid vaccination: Canada, bogus success?

As an illustration for the tale of the hare and the turtle. Starting much later than other large countries, Canada has become almost the most advanced country in the field of vaccination of its population. More than 60% of residents received the first dose against Covid-19. This figure differs slightly from province to province and ranges from 45% to 71%, according to

Canada is now (or nearly) ahead of the main historical “leaders”, namely the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel. In addition, on May 5, the North American country was the first to authorize Pfizer to vaccinate adolescents 12 and older. And yet he was indeed two months ahead of the rest.

This impressive growth can be attributed to several reasons. First, the residents had a strong desire to get vaccinated. “What really motivated the population was that we lived with very strict containment measures. Vaccination was a good incentive to stop using it, ”says Parisian Roxanne Borges da Silva, professor of public health at the University of Montreal.

“We have much fewer conspiratorial movements than in France”

Restrictions have also been eased since Monday in the country’s second-largest city, which has moved from red to orange. “We also have much fewer conspiracies than at home in France. When I speak with French friends, some only preach through Didier Raoul, ”adds the researcher, who also points to“ excellent ”logistics.

Another main reason is finding the time between two doses of the vaccine. Each region is responsible for health, and some, such as Quebec, have decided to postpone the second injection until 16 weeks after the first. This is 4 times more than in Israel or the USA, which followed the recommendations of the manufacturers (especially Pfizer, which is widely used every time). The idea was to provide some protection to as many people as possible in an environment where dose supplies were limited. Especially in a country like Canada, which doesn’t produce anything on its land and must rely entirely on imports. Except that during this interval the vaccinated are less protected (eg 60 to 70% efficacy two or three weeks after a dose and up to 95% after two doses of Pfizer).

“The government adopted a population-based approach, aiming to quickly give the first dose to as many people as possible, which made it possible to act very quickly. But I think it was a mistake, because we noticed that some older people do not respond to one injection and that they need two in order to fully protect themselves, ”says Roxana Borges da Silva. In addition, the emergence of options, some of which make vaccines less effective, has increased the need for second doses.

Glass ceiling to be reached soon?

Result: The proportion of the fully vaccinated population in Canada is much lower (less than 10%) than in other most developed countries (60% in Israel, 40% in the US and UK, etc.). In most provinces, it is less than 10%.

The only exceptions are the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon (more than 40% of people are fully vaccinated), but they are both very sparsely populated and located in the northwest of the country. “These areas are very remote, so they are given priority in dose allocation,” says journalist Pierre-Alain Normanden, who monitors vaccination data for the Quebec newspaper La Presse on a daily basis.

Several provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, have just retreated as they announced that it will finally be possible to administer their second injection while maintaining a minimum period of eight weeks.

With regard to vaccination coverage with at least one dose, it, as elsewhere, may soon cut off the time and reach the “glass ceiling” of vaccination. In Quebec, for example, “5.8 million people received their first dose or made an appointment, or 67.8% of the population,” says Pierre-Alain Normanden. Like other countries, Canada will then face the same problem: convincing as many of the remaining rebellious as possible.

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