National Post (National Edition)
QUESTIONS LINGER ABOUT PM'S FAILED VACCINE DEAL.
Canada's virus hellscape is not sustainable
Canada's inept Liberal government is on the B list when it comes to vaccine deliveries. The United States is vaccinating 1.7 million people per day, while Canadians are being told that six million doses will be delivered by the end of March. Maybe.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he called Pfizer 17 times to get a deal and now his country leads the world in inoculations. But in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the National Research Council (NRC) made a deal last March with a Chinese vaccine company, CanSino Biologics, that involved a sweetheart deal to transfer Canadian intellectual property needed to create vaccines for Ebola and SARS-CoV-2 to the Chinese.
Under the terms of the deal, the vaccine candidate was to be tested at Dalhousie University and, if commercialized, the NRC would share in the proceeds. But it fell apart when Chinese officials blocked the test vaccines from being delivered to Canada without explanation. CanSino blamed Chinese customs for refusing to export the vaccine, but China has permitted other vaccine candidates to be shipped to other countries for testing.
Rumour has it that Beijing blocked the deal because Ottawa wouldn't free Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who's currently being held in Canada while she fights an extradition request from the U.S. Trudeau has not commented on the matter, but given that the Chinese vaccine, which was based on Canadian research, is being tested and marketed elsewhere in the world, it's clear that Canada was singled out.
Back in August, a statement issued by then-industry minister Navdeep Bains noted that, "The NRC retains the intellectual property related to the cell line, while CanSino, in turn, owns all intellectual property rights for the vaccines it develops.”
So Canada would own the intellectual property and the Chinese would own the vaccine, which is being used by the Chinese military and being tested in Pakistan and several other countries. According to a CBC report, the time-sensitive agreement signed by Ottawa means “Canada cannot claim any revenue if the vaccine proves successful.”
I checked CanSino's stock to see how the company is faring and it's doing fine. In March 2020, when the NRC entered into a deal with CanSino with the endorsement of the Trudeau Liberals to share Canada's proprietary cell-line for vaccine-development, CanSino stock was trading at HK$87.45 ($14.38) on the Hong Kong Exchange. By June 12, when the deal fell apart, the stock had already doubled to HK$175.50. As of Monday, CanSino stock had hit an alltime high of HK$365.
If the Canadian vaccine is contributing to this success, there won't be any dividends coming this way anytime soon. And because Trudeau pinned so many hopes on the deal, his government was late to sign contracts with bona fide Western pharmaceutical companies, which likely contributed to our current shortages.
But there's another story grinding away beneath the headlines that also involving Ottawa, science and China.
In July 2019, Xiangguo Qiu, former head of the vaccine development and antiviral therapies section at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, and others were suddenly removed from their positions by the RCMP for “policy breaches.” They had won many awards for their work, and had collaborated over the years with a lab in Wuhan, China, that conducts research into deadly pathogens.
Just last week, an Ottawa official told the CBC that the scientists who were let go in 2019 had still been on the government's payroll until Jan. 20, 2021. “The two scientists are no longer employed,” the chief of media relations for Health Canada confirmed to the CBC in an email.
“We cannot disclose additional information, nor comment further, for reasons of confidentiality.”
Obviously, taxpayers deserve answers from Ottawa concerning both these situations, because they raise many questions.