OTTAWA (Reuters) -Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said the whole nation was frustrated by how slowly provinces are vaccinating people against the coronavirus and promised Ottawa would help speed the pace of inoculations.
Although Ottawa has purchased almost half a million doses of vaccines from Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc and expects another 1.2 million by the end of January, the 10 provinces are responsible for administering them.
Domestic media, citing official data, note Israel has reached 15.83 doses per 100 people compared with 1.38 in the United States and just 0.38 in Canada, where a rapidly spreading second wave threatens to overwhelm some healthcare services.
Trudeau said the campaign had to be carried out as quickly as possible.
“All Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people’s arms,” he told reporters.
“That’s why we’re going to continue working closely with the provinces … to support them as they need it in terms of getting more vaccines out to vulnerable populations and front line workers as quickly as possible,” he added.
Canada has recorded a total of 16,074 deaths and 611,242 cases of coronavirus and the new number of daily cases continues to set records.
Around a third of cases have been found in Ontario, the most populous province, where Premier Doug Ford said doses were running out.
“Our message to the federal government (is) – just keep these vaccines coming,” he told Toronto reporters.
Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, told Ottawa media that “the next months are going to be really difficult” and said Canada had detected nine cases of a new variant of the virus first found in Britain.
Discovery of the variant prompted Canada to slap a ban on flights from Britain. The measure expires on Jan. 6, and Trudeau said Ottawa had not yet decided whether to extend it.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer;Editing by Bill Berkrot and Steve Orlofsky)