Canada surpasses US vaccination rate, after lagging for months

By Vjosa Isai

Canada’s vaccination rate is now higher than the United States’ rate, as the country has overcome months of production and shipping delays that had left it lagging its southern neighbor.

More than 49% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, and 70% had at least one dose as of Saturday, according to the most recent figures available through the Our World In Data project.

The United States now trails Canada by about 1% among the fully vaccinated, who account for more than 48% of its population, while only about 55.5% have received at least one dose.

The European Union has also been catching up to the United States after lagging far behind until recently, with 55.7% of its citizens at least partly vaccinated. The EU still lags in its fully vaccinated rate, at under 43%.

As vaccinations even out in many Western countries, wealthy nations are leaving the rest of the world far behind. Only about 1% of people in low-income countries are even partly vaccinated, according to Our World In Data.

After steady growth through the winter and spring, the pace of U.S. vaccinations has remained relatively flat. President Joe Biden, in a renewed push, called last week for employers to set up clinics at work and offer paid time off for workers.

Vaccinations have plateaued in the United States as concerns have grown over the spread of the highly contagious delta virus variant. After a sharp drop in virus cases, the average number of new daily cases across the United States seems to have leveled off, although they remain a fraction of their peak. Outbreaks have erupted in some parts of Texas, Arkansas and Missouri.

Canada’s vaccine uptick could be welcome news for travelers on both sides of the border. Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signaled that the country could be ready to accept fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents across its border for nonessential travel as of mid-August, according to a readout of his July 15 call with provincial leaders.

Trudeau also said Canada could open to fully vaccinated travelers across the world by early September if conditions continue improving.

Canada’s vaccination rate has revved up after supply disruptions marred the early rollout, leading to a drop in poll-based public approval ratings for Trudeau in February.

After an early start, production issues at Pfizer and Moderna led to reduced shipments in winter — including some weeks in which no vaccine doses arrived at all.

Experts said Canada’s start was always going to be sluggish because of several key factors, notably its decision last year to spread its 414 million orders among seven different companies to reduce risk rather than bet on a single vaccine in exchange for early delivery.

And Canada faced inherent disadvantages, too: primarily the lack of an established vaccine producer with headquarters in the country and its relatively limited production capacity to make the vaccines developed by foreign companies.

Canada’s northern Yukon and Northwest Territories are leading the country with the highest proportion of fully vaccinated residents, at more than 59%, with two Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island, lagging the others at about 30%, according to data from Canada’s public health agency.

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