Without a vaccine, will Canada emerge from the pandemic with fewer infections than anywhere else?

EASTERN ONTARIO — To recap: How will COVID-19 come to an end if a vaccine is not deployed in the long term? In such a scenario, is it possible for Canada to emerge from the pandemic without first being “dragged down” to infection levels no better than anywhere else on the globe — including places like the U.S. and India?

“The bottom line is I don’t think we can prevent a lot of people getting infected over a period of time [without a vaccine],” opined Eastern Ontario Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis during an instructive April 8 media briefing in which he delved into NVN‘s questions on the topic.

“Our goal is to ensure that that period of time is as long as possible… Once we reach a level of, like, herd immunity, where a certain percentage of the population is infected and the virus doesn’t have a chance to go around, at that point we’ll be able to say, ‘OK, we’re better off.’

“But, the trick is we need to make sure that … it kind of slowly, slowly infects everybody,” added the pediatrician and holder of a microbiology/immunology degree from McGill University. “The majority of people will not have severe symptoms, but again, for reasons of not overwhelming the healthcare facilities, we want to keep it going flatter,” said Roumeliotis, member of the provincial COVID-19 public health measures table and president of the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health.

“So, yes, eventually, we will be dragged down with numbers, but what’s happening in the States is skyrocketing. We don’t want that. We want to be flat,” observed the doctor, focusing on Canada’s neighbour to the south.

An issue of time

By April 8, the U.S. had posted a cumulative 398,809 COVID-19 cases. Based on population, Canada reached an equivalent per-capita case count (which would be just under 46,000 total) between April 26 and April 27 — a little more than two weeks after the U.S. Since then, Canada has gained substantially more lead time over America in the march of the pandemic.

As of Sept. 28, Canada has tallied 153,125 cases to date, while the U.S. reached an equivalent per-capita number (1.34-million) between May 11-12 — four and a half months ago. (Per capita calculations here are based on the U.S. having a population 8.73 times the size of Canada’s.)

Meanwhile, cases in India at the time of the April 8 question to Roumeliotis were very low, but NVN included that country’s name to add a global sense to the query. India’s case numbers have since surged to number two on the planet, with 6.07 million as of today, Sept. 28. Worldwide, there have been 33.2 million COVID-19 infections, with a death count recently hitting one million.

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