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Twelve months into the pandemic
and we don’t seem to be
any further ahead

TORONTO – It has been a year. Of observing. Of learning. Of secondguessing. Of wondering if anyone knows what’s going on. If our system or our leaders are structured and equipped to deal with a crisis. Twelve months into this pandemic and we don’t seem to be any further ahead. With Covid-19 variants seemingly springing up from everywhere, we jump from alarmism to paranoia to hysteria. And it is always someone else’s fault.

Our “leaders” always have the same message: (1) we’re working hard, (2) we’re consulting with the experts, (3) we’re investing in vaccines, (4) stay away from each other. One gets the distinct impression that the new order of government is crisis identification and not crisis management.

I feel badly for our leadership. When things were looking up, the stage daily press conferences seemed to strike just the right balance between “baloney” and an aggressive plan toward normalcy, there was an element of credibility – just enough to sway skeptics.

And just when it seems we are turning the corner, “something/ someone” pulls us back. Always, there is some “expert” with the science to support the latest initiative. Except the science is more about the math… the latest count.

We have moved from counting infections, to tabulating deaths, to assessing dollar amounts, to investing in vaccines to counting variants. We have gone from no masks, to masks if necessary, to masks all the time. From vaccines that may work, to those that work only after two or three doses, to those that will not work on variants… oops, they did not exist three weeks ago.

Perhaps worst of all, or so we are now told, the virus was initially spread via droplets, so social distancing, masking, testing and tracing made sense. Now it appears to be air borne, an aerosol.

One thing has remained constant. The testing and reporting have been eclectic from jurisdiction to jurisdiction so that estimates and comparatives have been tentative at best.

Moreover, and this is sad for obvious reasons, everywhere the virus has struck it has a fatality rate particularly heavy on one segment of our demography: seniors with pre-existing conditions crammed into long term care homes.

They account for anywhere between 62% and 75% of all deaths in which the Covid-19 virus is implicated.

But those statistics speak more to policy decisions made to address a public health policy issue than to the ability of science to meet the challenge.

The mathematics in the chart below suggest that some of the “gloom and doom” predictions predicated on worst case scenarios may be a tad excessive and probably conducive to anxiety and mental heath issues. Compare the deaths per million of population and you will note that Ontario’s rate is 1/3 that of Portugal, 1/3 that of Italy and barely 1/4 that of the UK.

Our paper has always preached caution, but only 1.9% of our population contracts the virus and only 2.1% of that group succumbs. If that percentage increases, then we have difficulties.

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