Vaccine supply too low to help

Canada is unlikely to dip into its limited supply of H1N1 vaccine to help meet Afghanistan’s plea for help to deal with a pandemic that has already claimed 11 lives in the country.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canada is unlikely to dip into its limited supply of H1N1 vaccine to help meet Afghanistan’s plea for help to deal with a pandemic that has already claimed 11 lives in the country.

Both civilian and military officials have indicated that Canada’s stockpiles of the vaccine are too low to make doses available to Afghan civilians.

There have been 779 confirmed cases of swine flu in Afghanistan since July, when the virus is believed to have spread from a group of four American soldiers at Bagram Air Base.

Of those cases, 320 were identified among foreign troops.

“So far we don’t have any preventive vaccines,” said Dr Ahmad Farid Raaid, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health.

The ministry is expecting to receive a shipment of 550,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine from World Health Organization donors by next week. It has already shut schools across the country for a three-week period in an effort to stop the virus from spreading.

Most of the cases have been concentrated in Kabul, where an outbreak was recently detected at an Afghan National Army recruiting centre. But cases have also been identified in Parwan, Kandahar and Herat.

“If the situation deteriorates, we may need more medicine,” said Raaid.

But Canada won’t be contributing to the shipment, even though the Afghan government sent a request to the embassy for support over the weekend.

“We will try to help them… but it may be difficult to respond to the request for vaccine given the shortages in Canada,” Ambassador Bill Crosbie told The Canadian Press.

The Canadian military, which started vaccinating soldiers and affiliated civilians last week, acknowledged its own supplies were too low to provide vaccinations to locals.

“It’s not something we have the mandate to do at present,” said Task Force Surgeon Cmdr. Rob Briggs.

“And at this point the vaccine is in such sort supply that that’s likely not going to be forthcoming.”

Various Canadian government departments are in the process of determining other ways to respond to Kabul’s request, including the possibility of sending medical supplies.

“There will be a consultation with our own public health officials about what we can provide given the circumstances,” said Crosbie.

So far, more than 2,000 of the 2,800 Canadian soldiers in Kandahar have been vaccinated. Consular staff in Kabul have also received their shots.

There are, however, no firm numbers indicating how many Canadian soldiers have actually contracted the virus because the military lacks the required lab equipment.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

Most Read