Rivers: Is the Pandemic Over or Is This Deja Vu?

By Ray Rivers
July 19th, 2021
BURLINGTON, ON

The roller coaster ride with COVID has slowed down once again in this province. Our infection numbers have declined substantially since we peaked at over 4000 cases back a few months ago. Clearly the ‘stay-at-home’ and other public health restrictions have helped, though it’s the vaccinations that have really made the difference. And our governments deserve credit, the feds for securing vaccine supply and the province and local health authorities for rolling out the vaccinations.

Yet Ontario’s infection rate is still hovering in the triple digits and only about half of the adult population is vaccinated . But, the Premier is boasting about getting back to normal soon, much as he did last year. But chances are better than even that he is wrong again.

Normal is a long way off. Over the last few days the provincial infection numbers have either settled onto a plateau, or started inching back in the wrong direction. And Ontario’s new medical officer of health is now predicting another increase in infections come September, just as we saw last year.

If we look at the British and Americans. We see how they had mostly opened up their economies when their vaccination levels were similar to those in Ontario. But the results have been disastrous. COVID cases have soared over 90% across the UK such that their infection numbers are now back to those of last January, when they were in the grip of the Alpha (UK) variant and hardly anyone had been vaccinated.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is prepared to life all controls for the UK: covid19 infections are expected to rise while the PM goes into self isolation.

Medical officials in the UK have characterized Boris Johnson’s COVID policy of ‘living with the virus’ as just creating a breeding ground for new viral variants. In the US, the Delta variant has become the prime enemy of the people, with cases doubling every couple weeks and with increases in infections rising in every state. Authorities are laying the blame on the fall off in vaccination rates.

The virus and Delta variant may be the enemy, but those refusing the jab are its enablers. Just as in Canada, the virus in the UK and America is being spread primarily by the unvaccinated. So why aren’t more people rolling up their sleeves? US president Biden accuses social media of killing Americans by spreading anti-vaccine disinformation.

In France, when vaccinations started slowing down and COVID cases started rising, President Macron made vaccination mandatory for all health care workers. And then he made vaccine passports mandatory for access to congregate places, like bars and sporting events. That was a powerful incentive and a million people signed up almost immediately to get the shot in the arm.

Only two provinces in Canada are even considering issuing vaccine passports and regulating their usage. And Ontario isn’t one of them, despite calls from the mayor of Toronto and the business community to do just that. Premier Ford, while saying everyone should get the jab, keeps muttering about a split society, whatever that means. And also he refuses to mandate vaccines for health care workers.

Quebec chooses to use QR codes as vaccination passports.

It can’t be a constitutional rights or a privacy issue. After all, this is the same premier who instructed provincial police to block people moving across the provincial borders and to conduct random checks of vehicles and ticket those not travelling to a workplace. He is the guy who ordered COVID-safe golf and outdoor recreational tennis facilities and children’s playgrounds, shuttered under threat of thousands of dollars in fines.

The truth is that this pandemic will not be over until everyone, who is able to, gets fully vaccinated. It’s how we eliminated smallpox and for a time, measles. It’s either that or we social distance it into oblivion as New Zealand has done successfully so far. And it is likely too late for that.

With an election coming up next year, one would think Mr. Ford would want to ensure that Ontario’s economy is opened up as quickly and safely as possible – not another false start. Getting everyone vaccinated is the best bet for that to be possible.

After the turbulent series of confusing and often counter-productive provincial policies over the last year and a half, this might demonstrate that Mr. Ford is actually capable of learning on the job and responding to the public will. Otherwise it’s deja vu.

 

Background links:

Step Three and COVID –   French Experience –  

The Next Wave –  Ford Opposes –    Ontario Medical

Mandatory Vaccinations –   England Threat to the World

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