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Canadian officials are awaiting the outcome of major trials of the vaccine in the U.S.
“Of course, we want Canada to maintain high standards, but if there was ever an emergency, this is it,” said Kenney.
“I’ve asked our legal folks if the federal government is not going to approve other vaccines that are going to market, that the provincial governments can do so.”
If Alberta could do an end-run around Health Canada, it would end up boosting the refusal among Albertans to take the vaccine, a number an Angus Reid poll from a month ago was the highest in Canada at 27 per cent, said Dr. Juliet Guichon, a University of Calgary medical bioethicist.
“If he’s saying Alberta would purchase and administer vaccine not approved by Health Canada, he’s making a mistake because confidence in the vaccine would diminish,” she said.
“The hesitancy will climb and that would be a tragedy for public health … reaching for a prophylactic we don’t know is safe and effective won’t solve that problem.”
Guichon said within the current system of drug approval, that refusal rate would likely eventually dwindle to a hardcore of five per cent, if history is any guide.
On Monday, Kenney himself acknowledged Alberta can’t legally acquire its own separate vaccine supply.
The premier should leave the issue at that, said Dr. Lorian Hardcastle, an associate professor of health law and policy at the University of Calgary.
“I don’t see any regulatory path for Alberta to import drugs from other countries without Ottawa’s approval,” said Hardcastle.