Canada managed the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic better and withstood the upheavals that followed better than several other countries with comparable health care and economic infrastructure, according to a new study.
The research, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journalattributes Canada’s strong performance to restrictive and persistent public health measures and a successful vaccination campaign.
A team of Ontario researchers compared data from February 2020 to February 2022 in 11 countries, dubbed the G10 because of the late inclusion of one of them. They analyzed data from Canada, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. United ― all countries with similar political, economic and health systems.
“If you compare Canada to the G10, the differences are huge,” said study co-author Dr.r Fahad Razak, during a recent interview. If you look at our vaccination rate, we had the highest in all of the G10. »
After Japan, Canada had the second-lowest rate of people infected and the second-lowest rate of deaths, he added. The study indicates that Japan is considered an exception within the G10, for reasons that are unclear.
The research indicates that the cumulative per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in Canada was 82,700 per million, while all countries — except Japan — had rates above 100,000 per million.
Canada’s COVID-19 death rate was 919 per million, again second lowest behind Japan. All other countries had more than 1000 per million.
The Dr Razak said at least 70,000 more Canadians would have died in the first two years of the pandemic if Canada had the same death rate as the United States, the country with the highest cumulative number of coronavirus-related deaths. COVID-19.
“That means most of us would probably know a grandparent, friend or family member personally. […] who lives in Canada today and who would have died, if we had followed the same trajectory as the United States,” noted the Dr Razak.
He said Canada’s relatively positive results came despite having access to vaccination later than in most countries, noting that there were also other structural health system disadvantages to overcome across the country in start of the pandemic.
“Some hospitals were so overwhelmed that we had to transport patients by ambulance or by air to other hospitals,” he said.
But Canada, says the Dr Razak stands out from other developed countries after it chose to implement both strict and persistent public health measures. Although such measures have sometimes met with vehement opposition, the Dr Razak said they helped mitigate the overall impact of the pandemic.
“Many other countries […] had periods with strict restrictions, but they were withdrawing them quickly, he said. For Canada, it was really that high and persistent level almost entirely for the first two years. »
But the Dr Razak noted that the success of the vaccination campaign in Canada emerged as the strongest point of the research. He applauded officials for engaging with the public and ensuring vaccines were readily available across the country.
More than 80% of eligible Canadians were fully immunized with at least two doses by June. The percentage of vaccinated populations in other G10 countries is between 64% and 77%, according to the study.
“There has been a magic in Canada around the deployment of these vaccines for doses one and two,” said the Dr Razak.
“When we talk to our colleagues around the world, Canada is the envy of the world for rallying our people around this. This is a lesson to the world, that very high engagement can happen with the right strategy. »
The study also showed that countries’ response to the pandemic has left an economic burden, with public debt rising for all countries, and Canada recording one of the highest relative increases.
“We had these very significant economic impacts, we had very strict restrictions on our individual freedom which led to things like isolation […]but we also really had some of the best results for controlling the impact of the virus,” said Dr.r Razak.
“Was it worth it? This is not a scientific question, it is a question of values, morals and policies. »
This article was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta Scholarships and The Canadian Press for News