The efforts taken by Canada and the rest of the world to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus has varied. Complete success rates are few and far between with cases fluctuating throughout each country. Only a few countries have had the wherewithal and precaution to stop the virus in its tracks and continue a regular life. I want to focus on North America, thought to be a place that leads the world in innovation and freedom. However it’s shocking to know that Canada and the U.S. are struggling or have struggled to manage COVID-19. I want to take a look into how Canada has and is handling our COVID-19 recovery efforts compared to the U.S. and if there is anything we could learn from our neighbours south of the border.
In 2020 Canada’s efforts in preventing COVID-19 started to take action in late January with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing a cancellation against non-essential travel to outside countries. During this time Canadian epidemiologist Dr. Bruce Aylward led WHO research team to investigate the outbreak in Wuhan, China. However the outbreak in Canada was too much for hospitals and care facilities leading to quick spreading of COVID-19. At the end of February, The World Health Organization issued a global health alert in regards to COVID-19. In March the government of Canada issued more travel warnings and cancellations. The Canadian government urged people only to travel if completely necessary. In late April the federal government announced they were going to invest $1.1 billion dollars into COVID-19 research strategies. $115 million were put into vaccine and treatment research, $662 million for clinical trials in Canada, and $350 million for expanded testing and modelling. It’s clear to see that despite the overwhelming amount of adversities the Canadian government was facing, they made a valiant effort to keep the virus under as much control as possible.
During this time, the U.S. were taking a very different route in combating the virus. I have a very vivid memory of watching the news and clips on social media of people partying right as spring break started. The countless interviews with teenagers and adults downplaying the effects of the virus. It felt as if there was a blissful ignorance to the whole situation. While the rest of the world was preparing for the worst, the U.S. seemed to push the issues aside. I believe Donald Trump played a big part in the lackluster attempt at controlling the virus. Donald Trump’s multiple claims throughout his presidency lulled the U.S. into a state of comfort until it was too late. Some notable claims he made while in office were, “When we get into April, in the warmer weather—that has a very negative effect on that, and that type of a virus.” and, “The U.S. has among the lowest case-fatality rates of any major country anywhere in the world.” Mind you these claims were made last year early and mid 2020. This lapse in judgement and the embrace of hyper optimism led the U.S. to lead the world with over 20 million cases and 346,000. Despite the U.S. government’s efforts, the was not able to provide the initial 20 million doses to the public by December 31st.
Fast forward to present day the roles have reversed. Canada is struggling to match the U.S.’s output of vaccines and vaccinations. Canada’s decisions to outsource vaccines has been detrimental. Due to high demand in other countries where the vaccines are being manufactured, Canada is sadly getting the short end of the stick. Canada has only been able to receive 1.5 million doses per week from overseas. Only 33% of all Canadians have gotten their first shot of the vaccine and only recently 2.68 per cent of Canadians have gotten their second shot. The rise of misinformation and conspiracies have led many to put distrust in the vaccines. Protests are being held in public places denouncing the use of vaccines. I remember running into a protest in downtown Vancouver. These people blocked off the road holding signs and banners. However it was a hazard because all the protesters weren’t wearing masks. Protesters weren’t standing 6 feet apart and getting in the faces of passersby.
The U.S. government has made significant steps to improve the situation of their people. Due to the U.S.’s domestic manufacturing capabilities, they were able to produce ten times the amount of vaccines Canada was getting shipped in. 45% of the U.S. has received their first vaccine while one in three people are fully vaccinated. The zero hesitancy early on to distribute vaccines has proved to be beneficial to the general public speeding up the process to returning to normalcy. However, hesitancy to get the virus has differed between states. Language barriers and transportation have also played a part in why people have not received their doses. The Census Bureau has picked up on patterns relating to vaccine hesitancy and political stance. States such as Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana which are all Republican states, show all greater resistance to getting the vaccine, with 30% of adults saying they are skeptical about getting a dose.
It’s definitely been a rough road, but substantial progress has been made to combat COVID-19. As shown, there isn’t a singular way to go about treating COVID-19. You could argue one has made a better effort than the other however both countries are on the brink of pushing through the ceiling and into the clear of regularity. In recent news, vaccine rollout for people in Canada ages 18 to 24 is in full motion and signing up to receive your first or second dose is a couple clicks away. Canada is also on the verge of surpassing the U.S. in doses with the amount of vaccines being shipped in are reaching 2 million each week.