Canada's recovery threatened if vaccines not rolled out 13.5 times quicker: BMO

Jessy Bains
·2-min read
Personal support worker Johanne Lamesse reacts in anticipation to the needle as she receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 15, 2020.  Adrian Wyld/Pool via REUTERS     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Personal support worker Johanne Lamesse reacts in anticipation to the needle as she receives the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Civic Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada December 15, 2020. Adrian Wyld/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Without a massive boost in vaccine distribution the timeline for Canada's economic recovery from the devastating effects of COVID-19 is in serious jeopardy, according to BMO Capital Markets.

Economists at BMO Capital Markets say a re-opening of the economy from lockdowns that vary by province depends on it, and should be top of mind for policy makers.

“Yes, it is early days, but there is little doubt that time is absolutely of the essence and thus it’s never too early to make some assessments on such a critical file—critical not only from a health care standpoint, but also for the livelihood of millions of Canadians,” read the report.

Experts estimate herd immunity could be achieved when 60 to 80 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. Canada is aiming to reach that goal in September, but BMO says the current pace won’t get them there.

“Canada has averaged just over 40,000 initial doses per week and would likely have to improve on that pace by a factor of 13.5 or to around 550,000 vaccinations per week to reach 60 per cent of the population by the end of September,” read the report.

Canada lags its G7 peers, such as the UK and the U.S., by one-quarter of per capita rates. BMO says those countries need to increase their vaccinations per week by a more manageable 3 and 4 times their current pace.

In late December, BMO forecast a 5 per cent GDP rebound in the coming year after a roughly 5.5 per cent drop this year. It notes it’s still early days and the pace of vaccinations will likely escalate, but re-openings by fall could be wishful thinking without a big improvement.

“Some of the sluggish pace may simply reflect teething pains that might get smoothed in the weeks ahead; if not, current robust expectations for activity later this year may soon see some serious scaling back.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed frustration about the pace of the vaccine rollout on Tuesday and says he’ll be meeting with premiers to discuss ways the federal government can help speed things up.

"I think all Canadians, including me, are frustrated to see vaccines in freezers and not in people's arms,” he said during a news conference.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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