OLDS — The recent vaccine shortage in Canada underlines the need for Alberta to develop its own industry to produce vaccines and personal protective equipment (PPE), Mayor Michael Muzcyhka says.
Muzychka made that point to Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper during a council meeting earlier this month.
He called on the provincial government to look at creating its own supply lines for things like vaccines and PPE, saying the current COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how important it is to have quick access to such things.
“Some of the lessons we’ve learned through this whole thing is don’t rely on anybody else for PPE, don’t rely on anybody else for labs and don’t rely on anybody else for vaccines. We need to set those things up home made here in Alberta,” Muzychka said.
"That doesn’t mean we have to develop a vaccine from scratch ourselves, but have the ability to make it here and to be able to go to Pfizer (a vaccine manufacturer) and pay for the formula to sit and be able to produce it here in Alberta.”
Muzychka said the provincial government should make things like vaccines and PPE that can be made right here in Alberta not only for COVID-19, but if another virus infects residents.
“Supply lines within our own province, we know that we can rely on them. We don't know if we can rely on international supply lines anymore, for sure,” he said.
Muzychka was following up on a point raised earlier by Coun. Mary Anne Overwater.
She noted that labs at the University of Alberta (U of A) have developed “some great treatments for cancer and diabetes.”
That being the case, she wondered if the Alberta government is encouraging the development of vaccines in this province.
Cooper couldn’t say for sure.
“I do know that the U of A is currently working on a number of vaccine-related projects and so they have refocused some of their time and attention on that.
And if that’s successful, perhaps there would be an accelerator on that. But I haven’t heard of any projects in isolation to the work that’s already being done,” he said.