Most Canadians are worried Canada’s vaccine distribution will not happen soon enough to stop soaring COVID-19 case counts and deaths.
An Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found that 74 per cent of respondents are worried that the public distribution of a vaccine would be too slow to stop a greater spread of COVID-19.
The worry comes as cases continue to surge in Canada, with over 6,000 new cases being reported daily — a figure that almost doubles those reported just a month ago. Canada has also seen over 394,000 cumulative coronavirus cases to date, and over 12,000 Canadians have died from the illness.
Despite this concern, 66 per cent of Canadians said they’re satisfied with the federal government’s approach to getting its hands on a vaccine — though 79 per cent of respondents still said Canada could be doing more to get a vaccine sooner.
“Even though they’re taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach to how this is all going to transpire, [Canadians] want to see some more energy out of the government, and they want to see some more news probably related to some specific timings that will reassure them that everything is being managed well,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos.
The government has, so far, been unable to provide a firm timeline for its planned vaccine rollout. Officials attributed this uncertainty to the ongoing regulatory reviews for vaccine candidates – a factor that piles onto the logistical challenges of bringing a vaccine into the country and making sure it reaches every citizen who wants one.
“There are multiple things happening at the same time. Health Canada, on the regulatory side — we’re doing our review. The companies that have already finished their clinical trials are working to do their manufacturing,” Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said last week.
“And then it’s the matter of what their volumes are going to be and which volumes are going to which country. So all of that is being determined as we speak, and I think it’s really challenging for anyone, regardless of where they are in the world, to commit to the exact dates.”
The government is aiming to be ready to receive vaccine doses before Christmas, said the government’s lead on the nations’ COVID-19 distribution of a vaccine, Dany Fortin, on Thursday.
Officials also said the first physical vaccine doses won’t be arriving until early January, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he expects the majority of Canadians to be vaccinated by September.
Meanwhile, Canada doesn’t have any production facilities that are capable of manufacturing the most promising vaccine candidates. This is because both the Pfizer and Moderna candidates are mRNA vaccines – a new kind of formulation that very few facilities around the world are equipped to build, none of which are in Canada.
The polling found that Canadians are understanding of this reality. Given that Canada doesn’t have the right vaccine production capabilities, 63 per cent of Canadians agreed that the government is doing the best that can be expected.
However, this support isn’t universally held across the provinces.
“How you feel about vaccines tends to be how you feel about politics. So the regional distribution tends to follow the political map,” Bricker said.
Residents of Quebec and Atlantic Canada are more likely to agree the government is doing as well as can be expected, with both provinces clocking in the 70 per cent range of residents pleased with federal efforts. However, that support dips below 50 per cent in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.
Canadians do nearly all seem to agree on one thing, however. A whopping 93 per cent of Canadians believe that governments need to start planning for the next pandemic today, in order to avoid being caught flat-footed in the future.
“There’s a really, really strong stream – unanimous support – for the idea of doing what’s necessary to be better prepared the next time,” Bricker explained.
As for the current response, Bricker says the true test of Canadians’ support will come as vaccines begin to trickle into Canadian communities.
“Their expectations will be determined by what happens on the ground,” Bricker said.
“If they see a whole bunch of countries that they see Canada as being in the same league with way ahead on this, it’ll be a problem for the government. If, however, the government is able to move quickly on this and secure [those] significant vaccine doses and is able to … get us back up in line with what’s happening in other countries, they will be seen as having performed effectively.”
Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 1, 2020, with a sample of 1,003 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.