Vaccines and the Canadian Situation (with Jaimie McEvoy)

City Councillor and Medical Historian, Jaimie McEvoy, bets that no-one else in New Westminster in has read the “Encyclopedia of Plagues and Diseases”.  He has an insatiable interest and knowledge about medical history, which has also required that he take a deep dive into learning about disease processes and things like vaccines too, making him a fascinating knowledge-holder when it comes to looking at this current pandemic. 

And he has lots to say about vaccines and the Canadian situation. His discussion with Host, Susan Millar, in the series, 'Conversations' ranged over many areas of this subject, such as: “Why does Canada not make its own vaccines when it once was a leader in the area? In what way is Canada at risk because it doesn't have the manufacturing capability to produce the Covid vaccine? Will Canada have that capability in future? How concerning is the British mutation of the virus? How often do viruses mutate and is this a big issue? Why are some people more susceptible to Covid than others? Are Canadian First Nations at particular risk? Why is the Oxford vaccine particularly important?” And more.

What is particularly sad is that Canada once was a leader in vaccine development and production. Fifty years ago, the Connaught Laboratories in Toronto produced and distributed vaccines for polio, insulin for diabetics, among other medical treatments. Profit wasn't the motive.  It was the public good.  Eventually, after being taken over by the Canadian govenment, and then privatized later, it became a shadow of itself.  A company called Sanofi took it over and it produces limited vaccine products, with no extensive capability. There are and have been other vaccine makers here, but again, their capabilities are limited.  Apparently to Prime Minister Trudeau's credit, hundreds of thousands has been invested to increase Canada's capability in this area.

An interesting note: Researchers at the University of British Columbia developed a critical piece of the information needed to create the Pfizer vaccine.

by: Susan Millar

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