Latest swine flu screwup! - Macleans.ca

Latest swine flu screwup!

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

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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.