Federal health minster says Canada can't stop private COVID-19 vaccine purchases directly from manufacturers
VANCOUVER -- When prominent hockey journalist John Shannon tweeted that the National Hockey League was planning to privately purchase COVID-19 vaccines, the public backlash was unforgiving.
“I think the NHL did get a little bit of a trial balloon of public sentiment on this,” TSN 1040 host Blake Price told CTV News Vancouver.
"Nobody wants to see a league for 22-year-olds stealing vaccines that could be made for the general public ahead of the proper timing. We'll have to see where the story pans out."
The league – through Shannon – later clarified that it is “interested in securing vaccine when and if it’s available for private purchase.”
The back-and-forth led to questions being asked of Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu on Friday.
“We don't have any mechanisms to block corporations from purchasing on a private, contractual basis with corporations around the world," said Hajdu. “These are individual corporations that are selling to a variety of countries and selling to a variety of actors. I don't know the details of Pfizer's, for example, corporate contracts."
Hajdu also said procurements of the COVID-19 vaccine by the Canadian Government will not be sold for a fee.
“Our COVID-19 vaccine contract is with the federal government,” a spokesperson for Pfizer said in an email to CTV News. “It is important for Canadians to follow directives from public health officials to determine when they are eligible for vaccination.”
The company’s statement did hint that this would be the case “during the pandemic stage.”
Katrina Plamondon, a health equity researcher at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus explained those who can afford to – one day – pay and jump the queue may not entirely understand the potential consequences.
“If we rush to get it when we are not the highest priority, we take it away from someone who is,” Plamondon said.
“If our frontline care providers do not have it, they are getting sick. It takes five years for a nurse to be able to practice and seven to 10 years for a doctor to be able to practice. This is not a disposable resource,” she added.
The provincial government is planning to first immunize its health-care workers in hospital COVID wards and intensive care units, as well as long-term care workers.