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Stark Difference in Canada and US Handling of COVID-19 Pandemic

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Though neighbouring countries, Canada and the United States could not be more different in their approach with the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Maryam Razzaq

In the US, the COVID-19 cases had spiralled out of control for months with resulted in overwhelmed hospitals and more than 500,000 Americans killed. Since the vaccine roll-out this past winter, there appears to be a slower transmission rate. 

While Canada’s COVID-19 handling has not been perfect, they have done far better as a nation than the US to reduce the transmission of the virus. Canada has grieved from the toll on the pandemic, but they are also more grateful especially when looking at their neighbors in the South. 

The latest data shows that the total number of COVID-19 cases is 35 million with 625,419 Americans who died due to contracting the virus. Whereas, in Canada, have only been 1.4 million COVID-19 cases with 26,508 deaths. Canada has given 46 million vaccine doses and 51% of the Canadian population is fully vaccinated, and 71% of the population has at least one dose. On the other hand, US has given 338 million vaccine doses and 49% of the US population is fully vaccinated, and 57% of the population has at least one dose. 

Since early 2020, with the rapid transmission of the COVID-19 virus, Canada was quick to mandate masks, lockdown their provinces and limit the number of people permitted to be in an enclosed space at one time. Many provinces in Canada took a phased approach to open their economies back up to ensure there was not a rapid increase of infection rates. Though their neighbors to the south took a different approach.

In October 2020, the US experienced more than 50,000 new cases a day where Canada only 3,000 new cases a day. States to the south of the United States, such as South Dakota and Florida stayed largely open and consequently, saw thousands of Americans die at the hands of the virus. The different between the two countries was that when there was a resurgence of cases, provinces in Canada were quick to lockdown, whereas many states in the US choose to remain open to the public. 

For example, with the increase in cases in certain regions Canada’s province of Ontario implemented a “response framework” in late Fall 2020, which would allow regional officials to place restrictions in high virus transmission areas while allowing other areas to remain open. On average, Canadian leaders remained more consistent with their restrictions than the US.

With the rollout of the vaccines, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau encouraged Canadians to get vaccinated if eligible. 

“The bottle line for Canadians is the right vaccine for you to take is the very first vaccine that you are offered,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.

As the vaccines were made available to Canadians, the government worked hard to reassure the public about the safety of all four vaccines that were approved in Canada. The US announced that they would be producing vaccines for Americans first and while Canada was able to secure vaccine supplies, they would have to work to obtain them from other countries. Consequently, by March 13, the US had administered 100 million doses and Canada only 2.5 million doses. As such, the US were able to vaccinate their population more quickly than Canada. With the uptake of vaccines in the US, the COVID-19 cases declined rapidly.

With the decline in vaccine cases, The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear masks. On the flip side, Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s Deputy Public Health Office said that even though there is a continuous increase of vaccine uptake among Canadians, the public health measures will remain key in reducing transmission among unvaccinated individuals.

“We have more of what I’d call a collective or community approach so it’s not about what an individual should be able to do with one or two doses,” said Dr. Howard Njoo.

Now it seems that the vaccination rate in the US is heading towards a tragic path as vaccine uptake slows down dramatically. At its peak, the US was administering 3.5 million doses a day to Americans, but that number ended up dropping by a quarter. The demand for vaccinations has decreased substantially this month, even more so than it had in May and June. Statewide vaccine lotteries have been announced and while it seems like a great idea, thus far it has proved to be ineffective to attract unvaccinated Americans to take the vaccine.

It seems America is divided into 2 ideologies as the latest vaccine data illustrates how 17 American states have administered at least one dose to more than 60 percent of their population – all of which had voted for Biden in the last election. Of the 16 states who are struggling to reach a single dose vaccination rate of 50 percent, all but one voted for Trump in the last election. 

Right-wing American outlets, such as Fox News continue to sow seeds of doubt and fear about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines to Americans which continues to negatively affect the efforts of vaccine distribution and uptake. 

Until the right-wing American outlets do not stop their propaganda against COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic will continue to take the lives of innocent Americans. 

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