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

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The board is planning a 2021 festival no matter the conditions, they are going to make it work! (BCMF directors Buddy Thatcher (from left), Kristen Boulier, Rose Clark, Jeff Gray, Corissa McNeilly and Jayme Kennedy (front), and her hair. (photo submitted)
Bella Coola Music Festival planning on 2021 fest

The BCMF is planning for a 2021 festival on July 17 and 18, however it may look.

The Lost Lake trail is a popular hike for locals and visitors for it's accessibility (Khya Saban photo)
LETTER: Lost Lake trailhead trees shouldn’t be cut down

The area is slated to be cut by the Bella Coola Community Forest

Easter is on Sunday, April 4, 2021. How much do you know about Easter history and traditions? (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz about Easter and its traditions

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

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

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

Most Read