A cameraman records as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden participate in a virtual joint statement in Ottawa on February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A cameraman records as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden participate in a virtual joint statement in Ottawa on February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

White House confirms Canada asked for vaccine help, won’t say if U.S. has agreed

Canada, a country without its own domestic manufacturing pipeline, has been lagging in its vaccination efforts

Canada has indeed asked the United States for help in procuring doses of COVID-19 vaccines, but the White House refused to say Wednesday whether it has agreed to the request.

Press secretary Jen Psaki was responding to reports about Canada and Mexico clamouring for surplus doses — including one from Bloomberg News that the two countries would top the list when the time comes.

“We have received requests from both Mexico and Canada and are considering those requests carefully,” Psaki said.

“I don’t have any update for you on whether they will be granted and a timeline for that.”

Instead, she repeated the long-standing White House position that President Joe Biden first wants to ensure that every American who wants to can get vaccinated, and that it happen as soon as possible.

“We are still in the midst of fighting the war against the pandemic, right here,” Psaki said, acknowledging the U.S. is currently leading the world in getting its residents vaccinated.

That’s largely because of the country’s virtually unrivalled capacity for developing and manufacturing vaccines, which has been almost exclusively focused on meeting domestic demand.

But the international responsibility that comes with that manufacturing capacity is not lost on Biden, who also understands the importance of getting people vaccinated around the world, Psaki said.

“The president wants to be, we all want to be, contributing members of the global community and getting the pandemic under control,” she said.

“Any decision we make about requests … will ensure that we’re able to still quickly vaccinate the American people, as that remains our top priority.”

Canada, a country devoid of its own domestic manufacturing pipeline, has been lagging in its vaccination efforts, thanks in part to lingering production problems. Export controls in Europe, which have so far not affected Canada’s shipments, are a potential threat.

The bottlenecks are only beginning to clear. Health Canada says more than 8.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are scheduled to arrive in Canada over the next eight weeks.

Shipments of the two-dose Moderna vaccine have not been confirmed past the end of March, while a delivery date has yet to materialize for the other two vaccines — the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot and a single-dose option from Johnson & Johnson.

The Serum Institute of India is to ship another million doses of its version of the AstraZeneca vaccine next month, with an additional 500,000 in May, but it is not clear when those will arrive.

Canada is also counting on an additional 1.6 million doses of AstraZeneca being shipped from a production facility in South Korea before the end of May.

In the weeks since last month’s virtual meeting between Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, cabinet ministers in Ottawa have been liaising electronically with their American counterparts to reinforce what both sides have been billing as a new era in Canada-U.S. relations.

On Wednesday, it was François-Phillippe Champagne, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and industry, who raised the subject of vaccines with U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

“When you’re talking about strengthening North American supply chains, by implication you have to talk about medical supply chains — whether it’s the manufacturing of essential medical supplies or vaccines,” Champagne said in an interview.

“It is something that I raised in terms of making sure that we work together to ensure the health and safety of people on both sides of the border.”

It’s also likely to be a key variable when the time comes to begin the process of reopening the Canada-U.S. border, which has been closed for a full year to all but essential travel and trade.

Vaccination, Champagne said, is “the best way to ensure the health and safety of the people and eventually be in a position to reopen the economy.”

“I think what you see is a renewed sense, or renewed spirit of co-operation and collaboration, to protect the health and safety of people on both sides, but also to foster jobs and growth on both sides of the border.”

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

CoronavirusUSAvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo poet Kamal Parmar will read some of her poems at Rendezvous with a Poet on Sunday, April 25. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Nanaimo poet to read at virtual Port Alberni event

Rendezvous with a Poet is hosted by Char’s Landing in Port Alberni

A tribute to the late Winston Joseph was set up outside the Joseph household on Saturday, April 17. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
EDITORIAL: Late community leader deserves recognition

Petitioners want AW Neill School to carry Winston Joseph’s name instead

A piece of artwork by Port Alberni artist Jim Sears. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Deadline approaching for artists at Rollin Art Centre

Current exhibit features Port Alberni artist Jim Sears

Ryan Toso, pictured, and Cassidy McCaughan have opened Mobius Books on Argyle Street in Port Alberni. The city hasn’t had a dedicated bookstore in a couple of years. (TERESA BIRD/ Alberni Valley News)
BIZ BEAT: New bookstore opens in Uptown Port Alberni

See what else is new in the Port Alberni business community

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read