Canada’s response to Covid in the first 2 years of the pandemic compares well to measures in other countries
Compared to other G10 countries, Canada handled the first 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic well by most measures, according to analysis by CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) https://www.cmaj .ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.220316.
Canada had some of the strictest policies to help contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, such as movement restrictions and public gatherings, workplace closures, event cancellations and travel controls international.
“Keeping in mind the uncertainties about causation, we can hypothesize that high vaccination percentages and good compliance with sustained public health restrictions explain at least part of Canada’s strong performance in limiting vaccinations. health burdens related to SARS-CoV-2,” writes Dr. Fahad Razak, Unity Health Toronto and University of Toronto, with co-authors.
The analysis focused on the response of 11 countries to the pandemic from February 2020 to February 2022: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. The authors chose other G10 countries as a comparison group because of similarities in economic and political models, per capita income and population size.
- Japan was an outlier, with very low rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 deaths, despite relatively low vaccination rates during the first half of the pandemic, measures less stringent public health policies and an older population compared to peer countries.
- Of the remaining countries, Canada’s COVID-19 death rate was the lowest (919/million), with all other countries at over 1,000/million. Canada also had the lowest excess mortality, a measure that includes all COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related deaths.
- Italy had the strictest austerity measures in place, followed by Canada.
- The United States recorded the most weeks of school closures, followed by Canada.
- Canada was one of the slowest countries to introduce SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, but as of February 2022 had the highest proportion of people fully vaccinated (using the original 2-dose protocol).
- The Canadian economy has shown similar inflation and public debt growth, but weaker gross domestic product growth than other countries.
Comparing Canada with the countries most affected by COVID-19 shows how different the experience of the pandemic could have been for Canadians in the first 2 years:
“If the U.S. vaccination rate and COVID-19 death rate had occurred in Canada, approximately 5.9 million fewer Canadians would have been vaccinated and approximately 68,800 more Canadians would have died from of COVID-19,” the authors write.
Governments and the public may find lessons from the analysis useful as the pandemic continues to spread.
“As the country goes through the next phases of the pandemic, careful data collection and analysis is needed, while recognizing the limitations of available indicators and comparisons. Leaders should share new findings with the public in a transparent and timely manner, and make strategic adjustments to strengthen measures that appear to be successful and modify others as needed.