Blame stupidity and short-sightedness.

We used to have some control in Canada about who bought and sold our industry. If you are smart enough to realize that you might be desperate for a vaccine to cure a new coronavirus some day. You would have kept Connaught Laboratories in Toronto working on vaccines and other products such as insulin, for Canadians and world markets. As it is, we are waiting for initial shipments of covid-19 vaccines from companies in the U.S. and Britain.

A week ago, conservative health critic MP Michelle Rempel Garner criticized the Trudeau government saying “This is gross incompetence that’s going to cost Canadians their lives and their jobs.”

The only problem with this complaint was that Connaught Laboratory and it’s vaccine production capabilities were sold to a French company under a privatization program initiated by the conservative government of Brian Mulroney in the 1980s. Production of insulin and other products of Connaught were then shifted to Europe. That leaves two European companies and one American company producing insulin that was invented in Canada.

Connaught Laboratories was created by a famous Canadian, Dr. John G. Fitzgerald. It was originally opened to produce antitoxin for diphtheria and then gained more notoriety producing Banting and Best’s insulin. Fitzgerald eventually sold a successful Connaught to the University of Toronto for one dollar. The university took the gift ,that was given to them in good faith, and later sold it to the Canadian government for $29 million.

In addition to not having vaccine production ready for the covid-19 pandemic, Canada is hardly first in line for the vaccines now being produced in the United States and Great Britain.

On a personal note, I remember buying insulin for my diabetic son before the Mulroney sale of the former Connaught Labs. Two vials lasted him almost a month and cost about $10 each. Today, American-made insulin is costing him $30 per vial. He figures he cannot complain. If he was in the United States, he could be charged closer to $300 per vial.

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Copyright 2020 © Peter Lowry

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