Ontario premier offers to drive to U.S. himself to pick up more COVID-19 vaccines
TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford offered to drive an ultra-cold refrigerated truck to Kalamazoo, Mich. in an effort to secure thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine for Ontario – an offer that the premier said was turned down by the drug manufacturer.
During an interview with AM 800 in Windsor on Friday, Ford expressed his frustration with Pfizer over the COVID-19 vaccine shortage as a result of upgrades to their European manufacturing plant, during what the premier described as a "tough conversation" with the company's Canadian CEO.
"I told him it's unacceptable. We have all the infrastructure set up, and he's let us down. And every day that we lose, it could be possibly someone's life," Ford said.
During that conversation earlier this week Ford also offered to drive across the border – which remains closed for non-essential travel until Feb 21 – and personally accept doses of the vaccine.
"I told the CEO, I'll help them [with] one of those freezer trucks. I'll drive down there. I've been through Kalamazoo 100 times and, and we'll pick them up," Ford told the radio station.
Ultimately, Ford said, the vaccines being manufactured in at the Kalamazoo facility will fulfill orders made by the United States.
"They're holding them for just the Americans."
While Pfizer declined to comment on the premier's specific comments, the company said they listened to Ford's concerns and underlined the temporary nature of the disruption of vaccines.
"We recognized that it has made it more difficult to smoothly advance the scale up of the immunization program in Ontario and throughout Canada. We reiterated this is a short-term situation and our focus is on meeting quarterly commitments.," the company said in a statement to CTV News Toronto.
The premier also repeated his plea to newly-inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden to spare a million vaccines for Ontario residents and expressed confidence that the message had been heard by the new administration.
"I'm pretty sure he heard my voice, as President Trump heard my voice about the personal protective equipment. Matter of fact, I know he heard me because I heard back from governors and senators down there."
Ford said that CNN played a clip of his recent comments on the COVID-19 vaccine, leading to his belief that Ontario's message was heard.
"I know [Biden] team watches CNN and so I can assure you they know Doug Ford down at the White House."