Latest swine flu screwup! -

Latest swine flu screwup!

Canada has more doses of H1N1 vaccine than it knows what to do with


Vaccine shortage? That was last week’s phoney crisis. Now it’s the millions of unused H1N1 vaccines:

The federal government will make a decision in the next couple of weeks about what to do with what is expected to be tens of millions of unused doses of H1N1 vaccine, a spokesperson said Friday.

The admission came after Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq revealed the Public Health Agency of Canada will provide 5.7 million doses of pandemic vaccine to the provinces next week — a shipment which could in all likelihood fulfil the country’s H1N1 vaccine needs.

When that shipment is in place, more than 21.5 million doses of vaccine will have been made available across the country.

That’s enough to vaccinate nearly 64 per cent of Canadians — considerably more than have indicated a willingness to be immunized up until now.

That would be well above anything we’ve ever achieved,” said Dr. Ross Upshur, director of the University of Toronto’s Joint Centre for Bioethics…

The virus was first identified in April. From zero to two-thirds of the population in less than eight months. What a fiasco.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting the virus may already have peaked:

The data refer to the week ending Nov. 21, the last for which the agency has published nationwide numbers.The surveillance site noted pandemic activity was “still high.”

There were more than 1,500 hospitalizations across the country for H1N1 that week, with 243 of those patients ill enough to be admitted to intensive care. Sixty-one deaths were reported Nov. 15-21.

There have been 30 more deaths since then, taking the total death toll to 309. Between 4,000 and 8,000 people die of flu-related pneumonia every year. PHAC says “many others” die from other flu complications.

UPPERDATE: By way of comparison, as of Nov. 25 the US Center for Disease Control estimates the number of doses “allocated” — “those that are at the distribution depots and ready for project areas to order” — at 61.2 million, of which 51.9 million have been “shipped.” Using the upper number, and assuming an additional 11 million more doses next week, that means the US, with a population more than nine times has large, will have produced and made available about three-and-a-third times as many doses. Meaning Canada is delivering doses at more than two-and-a-half times the rate per capita.

UPPESTDATE: Britain, with nearly twice the population, has delivered 16.3 million doses to date.


Latest swine flu screwup!

  1. There have been 30 more deaths since then, taking the total death toll to 309. Between 4,000 and 8,000 people — possibly many more — die of regular flu every year.

    You're comparing the death toll from one strain of Influenza to the combined death toll from all other strains.

    • if you've read anything then you know there's another way to say it: H1N1 is no more deadly than any other *single* flu strain.

      • H1N1 is no more deadly than any other *single* flu strain.

        Other flu strains tend to only kill the weak. H1N1 can kill strong, healthy people. So it definitely is more deadly than any other strain.

        • Doesn't one flu shot cover all those other strains. So, can't they all be placed in one category? And, if they are, then it's obviously far more deadly than H1N1, isn't it?

        • It's NOT more deadly if it's not killing MORE people. It's just killing different people. That may make it scarier, but it doesn't make it deadlier.

        • Hardly a single victim of H1N1 without some underlying condition. Stop believeing all that witty propaganda already. You sound like the nightly news.

  2. How is this a screwup, since the vaccine can be used by somebody else?

      • I guess this is why the Lib-NDP guns went silent on this is a hurry. Too bad, it would be nice for Leona Aglukark to get some credit for a change.

    • It's a screwup because the "wacky" conspiracy theorists have been insisting there is too much vaccine, while the government has been crying "hutty while you still can get a shot." Turns out they're full of it. Way full.

    • LOL

    • Holly, hush sweetie. The adults are talking.

    • Are you suggesting that the Conservative government might have done something right? Who are you and what have you done with the Holly Stick we know (and love)?

  3. Humans are fickle bunch. Two weeks ago, everyone thought they were going to die if they did not get the jab RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Now, people can't be bothered. Ho-hum.

    • Well, my sense was that a lot of people were more scared of the vaccine than they were of the flu. It was the media and the Liberals who seemed to be telling people that they need to get their arms jabbed pronto.

      • But you should get your arm jabbed pronto — not out of fear of dying, but as a civic duty, to help prevent the disease from spreading. Same as you should get the regular flu shot.

        • Gee, where are the selfish anti-vaccine freakazoids to poo-poo this "civic duty" line?

          • Here I am. I was actually wondering if Coyne thinks our civic duty continues even after vaccines have been recalled due to severe unexpected reactions from jab shortly after we were told the vaccines were safe.

          • Oh, please. ONE LOT is being looked at because there was a handful of more severe reactions.

          • "I am unaware of our civic duty to be guinea pigs for our health system."

            Then you wouldn't be a tween or teenage girl being subjected to the HPV vaccine would you? An entire generation of girls…guinea pigs.

          • Would that be the vaccine that has been tested as safe and effective to be granted government approval for widespread use? Or are you alleging the studies did not happen?

          • Well, please feel free to call me names because I'm not prepared to have my daughter be apart of the human trials.

            Please feel free to put your daughter at the front of the line.

            Freakazoind? Because I don't fully trust the government studies? Alrighty then.

          • My girls will all get this shot before puberty, you bet. One already has.

            The studies have been done.

          • That is very good myl. Fear not, the government will take care of you.

          • I sincerely hope "My mother always loved a good conspiracy theory" will not be your middle-aged daughter's epitaph.

          • There's nothing wrong with being a skeptic.

          • Or with being a virgin. Unfortunately, only one of those will protect against HPV.

          • Regular pap tests, which must be continued because the vaccine only protects against 4 strains of HPV, has been doing an excellent job of reducing the incidents of cervical cancer, all by itself.

            If we become to reliant on the vaccine, how many women are going to forgo the yuckiness of a pap test because they're protected by the vaccine. And with anything, there's risk. In this case, unneccessary.

            As for the swine flu vaccine, I thought it almost cruel to field test it on our most vulnerable.

          • Better that our most vulnerable should just get unplugged from the ventilator when they catch the virus itself and are beyond hope? You are a piece of work.

            Oh, and your regular Pap tests? The smart people are telling us that ladies need them less often than thought. I am not sure that the vaccine deserves the credit for that yet, and yes not all strains are covered. But "it can't stop 'em all" has got to be the silliest reason to take a pass.

          • And the smart people are telling us this why? Some, not me but some are suggesting that its to save costs to the health care system and nothing more.

            This vaccine is so new they can't even be sure whether or not a booster is required.

            I never said we should unplug anyone, but I guess if you were going to poison the population en mass by accident, might as well start with the least productive in society. Phew, the vaccine didn't kill anyone and we tried it on the weakest…that's good news.

          • And if a booster ends up being required, dear Kat, guess what they'll do? A hint: they won't be saying, "Damn! We should never have put this out in the first place!"

            As for your drivel about how we're offing "the least productive" with this vaccine — do you get the difference between "vulnerable" and "productive"? What's that? OK, sure, I'll hold. I can't compete with your new fan Oliver Stone on line two…

          • Look, if you would like to blindly follow whatever the government tells you, trust without question and do as your told always and forever, you sure are free to do so.

            Be comforted to know that there are others who are asking questions, playing devil's advocate and ensuring that information that is being provided to the masses is in fact, true.

            And please, step to the front of the line and volunteer to be a guinea pig.

            As you are so willing to believe the science, may I point you in the direction of the CRU and climategate? Not sure where that's going, but it certainly does call into question the integrity of the scientists.

            Aha! Like Tiger, scientists are human and can make mistakes, can be pressured and can be forced to produce results that are not in the best interest of the population. I will not blindly follow…my choice which apparently makes me a freakazoid.

          • Wooo!

        • And here I thought it was our civic duty *not* to get jabbed until all the most vulnerable people had been vaccinated.

          • The vulnerable have had ample opportunity. We're up to our eyeballs in vaccine now. The doors are flung wide open now. Where in blazes are the crowds?

          • Maybe we can just write the whole thing off as a stimulus for the pharmaceutical industry.

        • Or you can treat the flu as a natural part of life, instead of getting jabbed pronto with foreign substances. Those who are more vulnerable take extra precautions, like the vaccine.

          I had H1N1. Not the end of the world.

  4. I wonder if LPC President Alfred Apps still thinks that H1N1 is the Conservatives' "Hurricane Katrina".

    • They think every potentially negative story against the Conservative is akin to Katrina. In other words, they haven't learned one thing since losing power. It's always Harper's fault for their own woes.

      • Indeed. For more than a few months, the LPC kept scrambling around like a chicken whose head had recently been severed.

        First, to mask an embarrassing lack of ideas, they rather lazily assumed that the Conservatives would "defeat themselves". When this didn't happen, they grew increasingly desperate, treating a succession of trivial pseudo-scandals (Wafergate, anyone?) as the worst thing ever (that is, until the next opportunity for fake outrage presented itself).

        It seems like Canadians have decisively rejected those shameless antics, to the extent that anyone was paying attention in the first place.

        • Are the Conservatives any more virtuous as far as shameless antics goes? I would argue they're as bad, but much better at managing said antics to better effect. I would guess that Conservatives learned much during those years in Opposition, when Chretien's henchmen hurled scat with impunity. (Eleanor Caplan's famed, "The Alliance is the home of bigots and Holocaust deniers" comes to mind.) The Conservatives seem to be just as good at hurling dung now, and just as impervious to the Opposition scat machine as were the Chretien Liberals.

          • NO WAY Cons would be making accusations of 'complicity in war crimes' if they were in opposition.
            And neither would have a Paul Martin Liberal party.

        • Crit_Reasoning ,
          They couldn't have done their faux scandal of the week,
          without a very willing media.

          I am sick of Liberals running down my country, my government and my military.

          • True enough. Liberals still make me sick, which is why I still vote Conservative. But I seem to remember Alliance MPs making hay over the prisoner issue some time in 2002 or so. I believe it was over a transfer of prisoners Canadian troops had captured to the CIA. I believe Brian Palister (Manitoba MP) took the lead on that issue. But you're correct, I don't recall them calling anyone a "war criminal". (I wouldn't put it past the Martin-led Liberals to do so, but that's purely hypothetical.)

    • I think the LPC is too busy hoping that the detainee situation will be the Conservatives' Abu Ghraib.

  5. Well, I'll know what to think when we hear from Dr. Bennett.
    But offhand,I can tell you the lack of death in an overconsuming country will put even more strain on our already overpopulated biosphere. Frankly, its a scandal.

    • I-r-o-n-y.

  6. So Coyne, we can expect more balanced and thoughtful coverage from the media for the next pandemic outbreak, instead of much of the mindless hype we endured this time? Yeah, riiiiight…. That wouldn't sell newpapers, magazines or help ratings, would it?

  7. You seem to be the last journalist still following this, I don't know why. Please don't stop.

  8. I claim the steak knives!

    From 3 weeks ago

    "If you want the vaccine you can get it. Especially if your local doctor is carrying it. If you arent in the high risk category you dont have too much to worry about, if you are there is vaccine around.

    And by US thanksgiving Canada will be awash in vaccine, just watch. We will be back to the not enough uptake issue again, you heard it here first. "

    • That is just … awesome.

    • Congrats, Vince! An eerily accurate prediction.

    • I argued, as did others (including our host I believe) it was just a matter of logistics. I just did the math of inflow and outflow and it came out about here.

      I also predicted, but I am too lazy to find it, that we would likely be exporting vaccine by January. AC's article seems to be leaning in that direction. We will see if I can go 2 for 2 in Vaccine world.

    • Hey, hey. Vince doesn't decide what gets awarded steak knives. You get steak knives for (a) multiples of the 100th comment in a thread; or (b) monumental stupidity; or (c) random Inkless whims. You don't get steak knives for actual insight. Cut your steaks with your "insight," Mr. Smartypants.

      • LOL

        I wondered why suddenly steak knives were being given out for GOOD comments.

        Thanks for clearing that up!

      • I predict 5 yrs from now, AC will stubbornly be one of the few members of the media still using the term "swine" instead of the more proper H1N1. Of course, for the differing mutations in subsequent years he'll be reduced to using terms like "swiner", "swinerer", "swinest", "mutatedswine", "uppermutatedswine" "uppermutatedestswine"…

        Category b pls.

      • I predict 5 yrs from now, AC will stubbornly be one of the few members of the media still using the term "swine" instead of the more proper H1N1. Of course, for the differing mutations in subsequent years he'll be reduced to using terms like "swiner", "swinerer", "swinest", "mutatedswine", "uppermutatedswine" "uppermutatedestswine"…

        Category b pls.

      • My apologies, how grasping of me.

        I am sure I deserved steak knives for some previous comment then…..that it escaped the Inkless eye is to my benefit then.

        • Just be sure you grasp those knives by the handles.

    • You'd said two weeks at the time, but did qualify it.
      Still.. close enough. I admit, I certainly didn't believe you at the time, so it's nice for me to be proven wrong.

  9. How did you get from "That's enough to vaccinate nearly 64 per cent of Canadians … " to "From zero to two-thirds of the population in less than eight months." ?

    I know you've been very worked up over the federal government's lack of preparedness for the H1N1 epidemic, seemingly for no good reason, but that's no reason to be disingenuous.

    • I'll try and help clear this up. First, you'll have to familiarize yourself with our numeric system.

      • Strictly speaking, 64% is only 96.97% of "two-thirds."

        • A lot of Canadians are dieting, so the numbers are skewed low.

      • Yeah, but look at it this way: 64% rounds down to sixty, but 66.6666667% rounds up to seventy. So c'mon, give Mulletaur something. He's been trying for weeks to look for corpse-delivered blood-stained hands on the evil clueless Harper & Aglukkaq and company. He needs this one.

        • As Mulletaur said three weeks ago:

          "The PMO is clearly upset by the fact that their total incompetence is responsible for the deaths of Canadian children."

          • I'm glad you find this so amusing but I wonder if you will think so if worldwide deaths from H1N1 continue to climb.

          • Well, inevitably worldwide H1N1 deaths will continue to climb. It's not like the worldwide casualties will decline, barring an extremely improbable "resurrection" scenario.

  10. There's an insane habit of opposition parties (and the Cons were the same) to whip themselves into a froth before events have played our or facts are known. Its completely irresponsible, but I don't even get the political thinking. The truth will come out eventually- why not wait before going bat-nuts? If things DO go wrong, you'll still have the time to say what you need to say. If things DON'T go wrong, you won't look like an idiot.
    I understand that we all will make guesses at what we think is happening, that's normal- its another thing to turn those opinions into full fledged (but half-informed) attacks.
    Applies to another big issue which has been in the news… escapes my memory…

    • Game of incentives. Unlike our host on this issue most of the watchdog's have moved on….I think Canadian war criminals is the latest meat provided by the dogbaiters. The effect, the opposition never pays a post hoc credibility price..

      Here is a more extreme example. During the Free Trade debate Ed Broadbent went around in high dudgeon claiming that Free Trade would kill medicare within 25 years. He rode that horse hard, it being close to Canadian's hearts and all….anyway, nobody has called him on it, and Ed still has some credibility to actually be listened to on issues of economics these days…Lord knows why……

      Shoter version, the opposition is never held accountable, no matter how egregious or outrageous the charge.

      • I love English. High dudgeon in the low dungeon. Shot [sic] version? People get uppity mostly when they're down.

        • How fast do you drive at "rush" hour?

  11. I don't think it's a fair comparison to compare the current deaths to date (in November) with the usual annual deaths for the year. We won't know the total number of deaths will be until the end of the flu season.

    Public health officials can only look at the models for how a virus will impact a population. If there was a higher death rate, the media would be claiming that the government didn't do enough. In either case, they can't win. We have the preventive measures to prevent disease and death – an effective vaccine. Like another commenter mentioned, if there is excess vaccine – I'm sure another country that doesn't have the financial means to produce their own it would appreciate it. If you are in a third world country without access to modern medical equipment in the case of respiratory distress, avoiding the flu in the first place can be a life saver.

  12. But Andrew, how can this be used to attack the Conservatives? This is useless to the Liberal media. Please join the mob and ignore any story that cannot be painted (either credibly or not) as a government scandal.

  13. Vaccine shortage? That was last week's phoney crisis.

    Maybe I have no sense of time, but wasn't this last month's phony crisis?

  14. Our entire health care system responded quickly and effectively to this strain – they deserve a lot of credit. As for the government, credit where credit is due, to Leona Aglukkaq. She's been about the only minister who's focused on doing her job rather than playing politics and more than any cabinet minister, I think she's done far better job in her post than any other minister has in their's.

    • Don't tell that to Raitt.

    • I agree Craig : I am very impressed with Leona as she stuck to her guns, kept on track and did not get averted playing games, she listened to David Butler-Jones (as she should have) and didn't play too many poltical games unlike a few doctors across the benches that sghould have known better! .. When all si said and done I hope in a few years she throws her hat in when Harper decides it's time for a his walk in the snow in 2015 or thereabouts.

  15. I've drunk enough of that alcohol-based sanitizer over the past few months that I'm safe from this H1N1 thing.

    • I've been assuming that anything alcohol-based would work….

    • And it doesn't look like you've aged a day.

      • Yeah, well that's my passport photo. Does anyone look good in their passport photo?

    • It's not just the cheap drunk either… it keeps your colon so clean that you could eat off of it, if you wanted to.

      • A sanitizing colonic, in other words.

      • Please tell me you are referring to punctuation…

  16. On the other hand (there's always another hand ) there's a possibility that all the breathless coverage persuaded
    enough people to get vaccinated that the number of deaths were reduced.
    And there's a real probability of a "third wave " later in the winter.

  17. On the other hand (there's always another hand ) there's a possibility that all the breathless coverage persuaded
    enough people to get vaccinated that the number of deaths were reduced.
    And there's a real probability of a "third wave " later in the winter.

    • How can there be a third wave if we're still waiting for the first?

      • First wave was in the spring. Second wave is now. Third wave is up to US ALL to prevent. The public health people and the vaccine manufacturer delivered. So far Canadians have been the disappointment.

        • As far as I know, there were a few cases in the spring. That's considered a wave? The second wave was not much different than a typical flu.

          • Yup. That was the first wave. In fact, it struck a good number of people.

            Given that we are collectively failing to roll up our sleeves, we can only hope that enough Canadians are now immune either because they caught the bug in wave one or two, or because they got vaccinated. I fear there remain enough vulnerable Canadians that, should the virus flare up in a third wave, we'll have another batch of dead Canadians. Oh, many will blame that on Harper, of course. Probably some who are currently refusing to do their bit now.

            Thankfully, as tragic as the deaths have been, it truly has been a mild flu. A gift: public health can learn from this to do even better than they did this time. And they should, overall, be proud of themselves for this time.

          • When it kills it kills quickly. And unusually,in that it kills those that are not usually hit
            by most influenzas ( locally, a 44 yr. old healthy and active man). And I suspect that a
            lot of those who fell seriously ill and recovered are going to be dealing with bad lung
            problems for the rest of their lives.
            Most seasonal influenzas take a toll on the elderly and frail due to the complicating effects of
            dehydration and pneumonia. This sucker is different. It and variations of it will be back.

          • "Oh, many will blame that on Harper, of course. Probably some who are currently refusing to do their bit now."

            Gosh what a shame the Harper government was not able to run a major ad campaign during the summer, preparing Canadians for the second wave of H1N1. They could have called it "The Fluconomic Action Plan" and put up a bunch of signs with coloured phallic arrows on them. But the Harper government would never, ever think of spending taxpayers' money on advertising.

    • At least you get it, rockroller.

  18. Okay, wise guys, the point I was making was that Coyne says "from zero to two-thirds of the population" as if that many have actually be immunized, which is clearly not the case.

    Also, there has been a recent jump in worldwide deaths from H1N1 according to the WHO, although mercifully we have not been affected, at least not yet, in Canada.

    • Don't worry, Mulletaur — I'm sure you'll get the mass disease/pestilence/plague that you're hoping for at some point — and that it will result in everyone blaming the Conservatives and throwing them out of office. Which is the important thing, right?

  19. Gee, Coyne, sorry to disappoint you that more people didn't die or get sick. But look on the bright side — you can now crow about how right you were!

    • I think you need to turn up your irony detector. He was being FUNNY.

  20. Andrew, perhaps you could put your iron down and explain why you don't yet know the difference between estimated deaths from seasonal flu and actual confirmed deaths from H1N1.

    "…But the thing is, as tempting as it is to compare those two sets of figures and conclude that H1N1 is much ado about nada, you can't do it. Those two sets of numbers count different things, experts say…"

    Why don't you ask how many certified deathsfrom seasonal flu there usually are in Canada.

    Here's some nice pictures (irony):

  21. Not all all, Bean. I was hoping that making a political issue out of it would spur the federal government to action and force it to take its responsibilities seriously by doing everything possible to ensure we were prepared and got the vaccines out as quickly as possible. That appears to have worked. Now we just have to hope that the sudden increase in deaths experienced worldwide due to H1N1 does not reproduce itself here.

  22. Well, if you're truly that civic-minded, you should seriously consider running for public office.

  23. It seems that Mr Coyne and the Liberals are bound and determined to label the H1N1 vaccine deployment a screwup in spite of the truth. The truth is that the Conservatives promised to start delivering the vaccine in early November, which they did. They promised that everyone who wanted the vaccine would be able to be immunized by early December, and they have been.

    All along the "experts" have said that it would be difficult to estimate how many Canadians woul want the vaccine. They knew it would be more than normally take the seasonal flu. Early on, after the unfortunate death of a 13 year old hockey player, there was a mad rush to get immunized.

    The opposition criticized the govt for not having enough vaccine and doubting that everyone would get immunized in time. Now they are doing an about face and criticizing the govt for having too much vaccine.

    If the Liberals ever want to regain credibility they have to start showing some consistency in their positions. And they have to give the govt credit when they deserve it.

    Their current strategy has Canadians turing a deaf ear to the Liberals. It doesn't matter what they say, most people aren't listening anymore.

  24. Once again, this time in all caps: I WAS BEING IRONIC!!!!

  25. What screw up? The only screw up in the H1N1 roll out has been the opposition parties and media outlets who would rather try to sell advertising space following the ol credo if it bleeds it leads. Had we had more responsible media and polticians we would have fewer problems … try and argue against this =

  26. All the more reson for everyone to get their shot, its not like there isnt enough to go around.

  27. Well, yes. I got mine a week ago. The lineup was fast and very well-run; apparently the Alberta government has now
    reacted to the sound of a mob with torches and pitchforks forming after the early fiascos.

    I hung around for a little while to make sure I didn't turn blue or anything, and had a sore arm for a few days; no big deal.

  28. Well the big phoney crisis is of course the Global Warming issue as proven in spades by the documentation leaked in ClimateGate. Where's your insightful commentary on that Andrew?

  29. "…So far, 309 people have died across Canada since the pandemic began in the spring, and roughly one-third had no underlying health conditions. That challenges the collective memory of a population that had never seen an influenza strike down people in their salad days…."

  30. Dude, he was being…., uh, never mind.