Owning the vaccine supply is best way to fight a flu pandemic, says prof

The backbone of the federal pandemic flu plan, which was to be released yesterday, is a contract to buy enough vaccine to inoculate all Canadians. But a question mark is hanging over the future of the vaccine manufacturer, which its British owner is trying to divest, reported Canadian Press Feb. 11. “The only way to guarantee supply is to own the supply. If we don’t have that, then we are at the mercy of the companies and what they’re going to do. And the only backup we have is how strong is the contract,” noted Dr. Joel Lexchin, a professor of health policy at York University’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies, who is a keen observer of the activities of pharmaceutical companies. “In that respect, certainly, putting everything onto one company is a gamble.” Unless the vaccine is made in Canada, there can be no guarantee the federal government could take delivery. “Even if we have a contract, if the manufacturing capacity is not onshore, then (the) other government might say: ‘Well, you know, we’re sorry. You do have a contract. But we are going to pass legislation that allows this company to break the contract. And you can sue us’, ” Lexchin said.

Multicultural Week coverage

The Canadian Jewish News featured alumni Adina Libin (BA ’03) and Rhoda Dinardo (BA ’02) in a photo Feb. 12 of Multicultural Week festivities at York University. The week-long festival featured booths from more than 60 student clubs and offered food, crafts, cultural exhibits and entertainment.

On air

  • Bernard St. Laurent spoke with three scientists – including Scott Menary, an experimental particle physicist in York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science – about the ethical questions scientists like Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg faced, on CBC Radio’s “Sounds Like Canada” Feb. 11. The friendship between Bohr and Heisenberg, who were instrumental in developing the nuclear bomb for opposing sides during the Second World War, is explored in the play Copenhagen currently running in Toronto.
  • CFTO TV’s “World Beat News” and OMNI.2’s Cantonese edition of “Omni News” covered a cheque presentation Feb. 11 to York University for the Randal Dooley Memorial Bursary from T.O. Roots and Culture Canada Day Festival, which raises money for the bursary. York University President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden attended.
  • Ian Greene, a political scientist with York University’s Faculty of Arts, discussed whether or not sponsorship program scandal will hurt the Liberal government, on CBC Newsworld’s “Newsworld Today” Feb. 11. He was also cited that same day in a story by Broadcast News as an ethics expert who believes that scandals like the public works one will lower the voter turnout.
  • Dianne Martin, criminal lawyer and director of the Innocence Project at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, discussed the use of expert witnesses in court, ethical standards and biased witnesses, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Feb. 11.