There's an Idea! Let's Make Our Own Vaccines.


Dr. Alan Bernstein, head of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, says Canada needs something we haven't had since Mulroney allowed Connaught Labs to be sold off. He wants Canada back in the business of producing vaccines.

'"We need domestic vaccine production capacity in the country for the next pandemic, and also for this pandemic. If there are variants arising, we may be designing second, third-generation vaccines and vaccinating the population for the next two or three years."

"On Friday, Moderna announced that production delays would cut into its upcoming deliveries of vaccine doses to Canada. That followed Pfizer and BioNTech having cancelled an entire shipment of its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada this week, after reducing its previous shipment by 20 per cent, due to a temporary slowdown while its production facility in Belgium is being upgraded.

"Bernstein said "hiccups" are to be expected with vaccine shipments, but that shouldn't prevent the government from pressuring pharmaceutical companies to ensure timely deliveries."

Ressurecting a domestic capacity to produce vaccines and other critical pharmaceuticals is part of what's called "resilience." Sure it's cheaper to shop products from overseas but, as we're discovering, the supplies and suppliers aren't always reliable. When things go bad, exports can be embargoed, deliveries can be disrupted, programmes for vaccination set back.

When supplies become unreliable there are ripple effects. For example there's now talk of giving provinces that did a poor job of curbing the spread of Covid-19 priority access to the supply of vaccine.
That would presumably benefit the larger provinces - Ontario and Quebec - which happen to be where most of the political power comes from. That would be a very cynical thing to do to the country but, then again, Justin Trudeau knows on which side his bread is buttered.

Update: Consider this before you dismiss those critical of our government's handling of the Covid vaccine fiasco. The UK vaccinated 600,000 Brits (first dose) yesterday. The UK is a nation of 66 million. Canada's population is 37.5 million. Britain has a horribly incompetent government headed by Boris Johnson. We have Justin Trudeau. Canadian health workers have administered 954,000 vaccinations in total. Not one day. That's all in. Britain's National Health Service expects to see the impact of the vaccination campaign within two weeks. You've got some chance of getting vaccinated by late summer. Good luck.


  1. Our woeful lack of self-sufficiency & lack of preparedness for this pandemic has been a bi-partisan effort. The invisible hand of the marketplace is failing big time.

    As to the earlier vaccine/Trudeau comments, the Tyee article has it about right, imo:

    "However, if credible evidence comes to light that the PMO ineptly meddled in the vaccine procurement process, as it has with many other important files, the political damage could be irreversible. The continual culture of secrecy within the Trudeau government does little to dispel legitimate questions from the public."

    1. At Northern Reflections, JKRideau links to a press release from the National Research Council last summer about some vaccine lab intended to be up and running in Montreal next summer. The press release has a vague promise of 2 million doses per month - sort of, maybe. I assume Dr. Bernstein is aware of the NRC project when he says the federal government keeps hinting at some future project but it doesn't sound like he thinks it's just around the corner.

  2. "Bernstein said "hiccups" are to be expected with vaccine shipments, but that shouldn't prevent the government from pressuring pharmaceutical companies to ensure timely deliveries."

    Wow, punching above our weight again are we?

    Meanwhile in a 'third world country'


    1. Thanks for the link, TB. Very interesting. I suppose Canada wouldn't want to upstage India. It does put the vaccine production problem into perspective. We have sacrificed resilience in so many areas. This fiasco may bring us back to our senses.

  3. Precisely what's happening now. Providence Therapeutics of Toronto is building a production facility in Calgary. Phase 1 trials of their covid vaccine are underway in Toronto.

    Meanwhile, Medicago is building a facility in Quebec City to make their covid vaccine.

    You're looking at a year out for Providence, and quite a bit longer for Medicago. Still, although these are private companies, and not beholden to a strategic purpose by the Feds as a Crown Corp would be, not everyone has been twiddling their thumbs and bemoaning our fate, but a few are getting on with it. There's also a vaccine developer group at U Sask.

    1. Bill, thanks for this encouraging information. Ever since the last Calgary flood I've been flogging the resilience problem that afflicts Canada in so many ways. We have to start investing in Canada again. In the era of "everyday low taxes" we had a free ride on maintenance, upgrading and renewal and it shows in corroding overpasses, potholed highways, an antiquated electrical grid among others. When Covid-19 hit we were left scrambling to find overseas producers of basic PPE gear for our frontline health workers. Rather than investing in critical technologies and strategic reserves we keep amassing vulnerabilities.

    2. It's about time we began to think of securing our future and not relying on "the kindness of strangers."

    3. The Utopian commercial world on which globalism is predicated never was. It was, for its acolytes, an unattainable ideal never quite capable of the escape velocity needed to be free of restraints such as nationalism. We discovered that these long supply lines operated like chains, in which not one but several links could fail. These vulnerabilities, inherent in globalized production, were ignored until failures happened.

  4. As we all re-learn to see things from the engineers' perspective.....


    noun: the state of being not or no longer needed or useful.

    the inclusion of extra components which are not strictly necessary to functioning, in case of failure in other components.

    1. We're flying too close to the sun, NPoV. Caution has been sacrificed as an impediment to maximizing excess. Why carry an extra 20% fuel reserve. That only adds to weight and weight is cost until you're battered by headwinds and wind up an hour from the nearest runway with only 40 minutes of fuel remaining.

  5. The Disaffected LibJanuary 30, 2021 at 12:46 PM
    The Utopian commercial world on which globalism is predicated never was.

    And it's driving the supporters mad with confusion.
    Whilst the supporters have long ignored the Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for the poor , by which they live they never , ever, expected such surge in welfare to keep the world, as they know it, functioning.
    Other than the algorithms of the financial district business will never be the same.

    A.I, really is the demise of what is required.
    Artificial intelligence is , as we speak, is governing the future.
    it was never so evident as it was during the USA elections.


    1. TB, have you read Yuval Noah Harari's "Homo Deus"? He offers a brilliant discussion on AI, algorithms and such. What will we do when we find upwards of two thirds of humanity no longer serve any useful purpose?

  6. Back to the 'who is to blame for lack of vaccines' battle.
    Methinks the braying CDN critics should accept that we're just ankle biters watching the big bullies fight:
    "France and Germany have threatened legal action against the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in the row over a shortage of coronavirus vaccines in the EU.

    Talks between the European commission and the vaccine producer are continuing over the lack of supply, with Brussels raising concerns that doses may have been diverted from plants in Belgium and Germany to the UK."

    "Best advert for Brexit: per EU"

    Next thing you know, 'globalist' will be an insult (or lament?)

    1. What do you call a country that orders 9+ vaccine doses for every resident but has a vaccination record that's eclipsed by Romania and Slovenia. Answer: Canada. Not having some form of state-controlled/supported pharmaceutical institute is one part of Canada's indifference to our nation's resilience. We've been warned, the world has been warned, that there are even greater hazards looming, and we're doing next to nothing to prepare the nation to withstand them. Instead we'll just talk about "braying CDN critics" because that's what we do rather than demand that this neglect stop.

  7. More on vaccine blame battles, a global phenomenon apparently, .... from the Bangkok Post.
    (BTW, Thailand is generally doing the pandemic thing well.)

    The lege majesty aspect of this one got me thinking that the Payette situation, ain't really so bad.

    "The Criminal Court has ordered leading government foe Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit to remove allegations on social media that the state's coronavirus vaccine policy is opaque and unfairly favours a company owned by His Majesty the King, the government said on Sunday.

    However, Mr Thanathorn’s Progressive Movement denied the videos were illegal and urged YouTube and Facebook to preserve freedom of expression.

    The clips could still be viewed late on Sunday.

    The Digital Ministry said the Criminal Court ruled that Mr Thanathorn's posts on social media and his movement's website could breach national security.

    The videos accuse Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's government of lack of transparency in allowing Siam Bioscience, which is owned by His Majesty, to supply most doses despite a lack of vaccine experience.
    Siam Bioscience received a 600 million baht subsidy to develop capacity to manufacture AstraZeneca vaccines domestically and across Southeast Asia.

    The court did not comment when contacted by Reuters.

    Mr Thanathorn's movement said it had not received the ruling. "We continue to stress that the content is not false or a threat to national security," tweeted Pannika Wanich, a prominent Progressive Movement member.

    "We hope YouTube and Facebook will stand by the rights and freedom of expression."

    Mr Thanathorn was banned from politics for 10 years after a court dissolved his previous Future Forward Party last year over loans deemed illegal. He denied the charges.

    Now the government has lodged a case against him over the video, accusing him of insulting royalty, a charge punishable by up to 15 years' prison.

    The government says Siam Bioscience manufacturing is on track to deliver a first batch of 61 million doses to the public by June.

    There was no immediate comment from Mr Thanathorn or Siam Bioscience on the court ruling. The palace traditionally does not comment on political disputes.

    Thailand on Sunday reported 829 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 18,782 cases and 77 fatalities since the outbreak started last January.

    1. Thailand, ex-Siam, the place where saying that the king farted can land you 10-years in the slammer. There was a time, pre-Vietnam War, when I found the place fascinating. Then I wound up hanging out with returning vets while doing my undergrad in the states and began hearing how the Thais turned parts of Bangkok into red light districts staffed with girls from northern villages who had been bought from their parents. That's one fucked up place made worse by Thailand's willing collaboration with the Japanese in WWII.

  8. 10-4 ....

    As I can't seem to get a direct answer, I let @sarahjanet from twitter take over:

    "I don't even LIKE Trudeau that much and I got so sick of the Trudeau bashing and fearmongering in the media about Canada's vaccine status that I pulled numbers and did the math on our relative position and looked at who is ahead of us.

    First of all, our relative ranking that is causing this hand-wringing is based on vaccines ADMINISTERED, not acquired. Trudeau has no control over the former, and if we calculated on # acquired we'd leapfrog six spots up to 14th in the world per capita. That's on the premiers.

    Given that we're 39th in the world for population and second in the world for physical area, (ie not that many people in a whooooole lotta land for vaccines that have considerable transportation logistical factors), 14th is already pretty good, IMO.

    But here are the countries ahead of us:

    Seychelles (fewer people than Red Deer, not a useful comp)
    UK (credit to the NHS, their rollout has been incredible, but they have domestic production so not a useful comparison)
    Bahrain (1.6m, smaller footprint than #yeg.)

    US (the rollout logistics have been a fiasco but they are getting a lot of shots in arms! But again, domestic production, poor comparison)
    Malta (500,000 people in an area smaller than Edmonton.)
    Serbia (1/6 our population in 1/10 the space)
    Iceland (population 356,000)

    Denmark (far smaller, 15% as many people as us, and 2nd-best funded public health system in the OECD)
    Ireland (population about the same as Alberta in a country 13% of the size of AB.)
    Romania (kudos to Romania, they are really punching above their weight here)
    Slovenia (ditto!)

    THAT'S IT. Which of those countries are useful comparisons for Canada? They're either a *fraction* of our population and size or they're producing their own vaccine. If you want to solve that, take a time machine to 1989 and take it up with the Conservatives.

    This is not white knighting for Trudeau. This is NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE. Resist the hot takes from the media. Ignore the bullshit grandstanding from ALL parties. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH VACCINE FOR EVERYONE WHO WANTS IT IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. This isn't politics, it's just FACTS."

    Over ....

    1. NPoV, I realize you're desperate but don't eat that stuff. It's horseshit.

      Read my next post. The UK administered 600,000 doses yesterday. The US is up to 1.5 million doses, third day running.

      "Sarahjanet" can lay it on thick, especially the business about this, especially her sophistry about going back to 1989 and taking it up with the Conservatives. For how many years since 1989 have we had Liberal governments who did SFA about this? Let's see, Chretien, Martin and now, in his sixth year, Trudeau.

      You then raise your strawman about how "THERE IS NOT ENOUGH VACCINE FOR EVERYONE WHO WANTS IT IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW." Brilliant, but so what? That's what is called sophistry. No one is claiming there's enough except in your fevered imagination.

      What you can't grasp is that this is about whether our governments have failed to take every reasonable and foreseeable step to maintain our resilience. And the answer to that is a "Hard Yes." You obviously don't like to hear that but that doesn't make it any less true or less relevant.

      Are you going to go through this same routine when the next emergency lands on our doorstep? Where do you draw the line, NPoV? That's what lies at the core of this, what level of neglect and unpreparedness, what loss of resilience do you find tolerable?

      I think you have your "direct answer." Don't you?

      Now you can stomp your feet, throw yourself on the floor and kick your legs, scream at the top of your lungs and it won't change a thing.

  9. Domestic vaccine manufacturing and development is a great start, but we also need the return of other domestic manufacturing industries for the health and security of this country and it's economy. This pandemic has exposed how neoliberalism has made Canada too Dependant on other nations for essential supplies, which is extra bad in a crisis and not good for our economy and freedoms either.

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