Canada has fared better on COVID than US has

By / / Updated: 19:21,10-June-2022

A child points as his family walks inside Sherway Gardens mall in Toronto, Ontario, June 30, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Despite similar income disparities, territorial divides, and comorbidities such as obesity and hypertension as US, Canada has done far better than its southern neighbor amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of June 6, the seven-day rolling average of the daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases in US were 117,284, while Canada was 2,362, according to Our World in Data, a scientific online publication.

Although the population of 332.4 million in US is more than eight times Canada's 38.2 million, the former's ratio of deaths per million inhabitants still far surpasses Canada's.

Among the reasons are the higher vaccination rates and stricter mandates in Canada compared with the US, according to the report.

COVID-19 vaccination began in Canada on Dec 14, 2020.

In the US, however, public opinion polls have suggested that the 20-25 percent of unvaccinated people are unlikely to ever get vaccinated due to low public trust in state institutions and health authorities, according to The Conversation Canada.

The discourse in Canada over vaccines has not reached the levels of divisiveness seen in the US over the past years.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pointed out that Canada surpassed the US in vaccination rates in part because Canadians are not refusing vaccination "on the basis of ideology and political persuasion".

Fearing US-style discourse on vaccines, Canada Federal leaders were urged not to use vaccines "as a political toy" during the country's 2021 election campaign.

"Mandatory Vaccination" became one of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's campaign policies. His re-elected Liberal government promised to "Require that travellers on interprovincial trains, commercial flights, cruise ships, and other federally regulated vessels be vaccinated; Ensure vaccination across the federal public service …" reads on the government's website.

The proposal to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory also extended to truck drivers who wanted to avoid 14-day quarantine upon re-entry from the US. The far stricter pandemic restrictions in Canada sparked the "Freedom Convoy" demonstrations across Canada in early 2022.

Trudeau then said "nefarious actors" from the US have fueled the Canadian protests and other disruptions. He also said at least "50 percent" of the money raised "online to fund the Ottawa convoy and other related protests has come from the US.

Interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen who called on Trudeau to drop all federal pandemic restrictions and "transition to a post-COVID society as quickly as possible", said Omicron infections are on the decline, Canada is among the world's most vaccinated countries and promising new therapeutics that significantly reduce the likelihood of severe disease and death are starting to roll out.

Meanwhile, experts said Canada benefits from its universal and publicly funded healthcare system.

Ross Upshur, a professor of public health at the University of Toronto said the availability of universal health insurance is the "simplest" explanation for Canada's lower infections and deaths.

"Most Canadians would not swap the health system we have, with all its faults, for the US system," he said.

Canada has a universal, decentralized and publicly funded healthcare system administered by its 13 provinces and territories. The US, however, has no single nationwide system of health insurance.

"That means Canadian people, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have access to health care," said Donald Vinh, an infectious disease specialist at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. "What makes that an important factor is that, regardless of where you are in your phase of illness, you will still be able to get healthcare."



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