Even Ontario’s bizarre and messy vaccine rollout, and the spread of variants, will not stop our Roaring Twenties

Eventually, this time will be a memory, like everything else. Canada will start swimming in vaccines starting in April; the arguments will fade into summer. As someone once said, throw enough vaccine at a problem, it doesn’t matter how badly you actually do it.But right now Canada is still watching Americans get vaccinated 24-7 at Yankee Stadium, and watching President Joe Biden promise that every American can get a vaccine by the end of May. America is poised to have a bacchanalian American summer, and good God, it could be like Mardi Gras at a college football game. Canada? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says end of September. It will probably be sooner. But we have to get through the bumpy ending, first.There haven’t been enough vaccines, but there will be. The worry was whether second-quarter deliveries would be regular rather than back-loaded as part of quarterly contracts, which could have meant waiting for a ton of vaccines as late as June. But according to sources familiar with the negotiations, Moderna is indicating that like Pfizer, it will deliver regularly starting in April.Add the change in guidance to delay the second shot of Moderna and Pfizer — the National Advisory Council on Immunization approved delaying the second shot up to four months, which according to a SIREN survey in the United Kingdom dropped infection protection from 85 per cent to 70 per cent, though Quebec’s says 80 — and this whole thing will speed up, fast. (The decision, which lacked data, drew its own criticism from some in the medical community.) Measured by first shots, September could turn to June. But we have to wait until April to really hit the runway.The rollout, too, is already messy. Ontario’s vaccine rollout has an ethical framework that includes transparency, but is remarkably opaque. Did anybody say aloud that police in Toronto would suddenly be moved to the front of the line, along with firefighters, last week? No, but there were 2,250 police getting vaccines before 80-pluses in the community, despite the province’s framework being heavily weighted towards age. Does anybody know what the actual provincial plan looks like, beyond its relatively vague structure? No. It’s a flow chart that doesn’t exist in the real world.Can anyone plausibly explain why a registration portal won’t be ready until the one-year mark of the pandemic? And no, the explanation of not rushing, as offered by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, doesn’t qualify. Montreal is already booking appointments for people 70 and older.And can anybody explain how doses are distributed by region? As the CBC’s Mike Crawley reported Wednesday, the city of Toronto has been short-changed on vaccine doses, and it turns out Peel has been, too.In terms of total doses received, Toronto makes up 20 per cent of the province’s population, holds half of its doctors, and had received enough to vaccinate 6.5 per cent of the city population. Peel, which is the hardest-hit region in the province and has a huge number of essential workers and vulnerable populations, had enough to vaccinate 8.8 per cent. Haldimand-Norfolk had received 10.8. Whatever explanation you want to give for that, it is almost impressive to undervaccinate the two hardest-hit population centres in the province, once somebody gives you the vaccines you had been asking for since December. This is the task force that vaccinated non-front-facing health-care workers over long-term-care residents in places like Niagara, though. Mistakes were made.Luckily, some public health units started planning for vaccine distribution as early as spring of 2020, and have started to vaccinate their 80-plus population in the community. The province, meanwhile, formed its vaccine task force a week before the Moderna vaccine was approved. This will all get sorted, and the gears will run smoother, and the vaccines will come. The prime minister reiterated Wednesday that the timeline remained end of September, and left open the idea that could move faster. Thirty-five per cent of Americans would not take a vaccine or are not sure, by the way, to 21 per cent for Canada. The race for actual herd immunity could be closer than it looks. But the road to herd immunity is still fraught with danger — the minefield, as Dr. Steini Brown, the co-chair of Ontario’s independent volunteer science table, put it last week — and the race between variants and vaccines isn’t over yet.Both Peel and Toronto announced they would be open to exiting their stay-at-home status, into grey next week, which would involve opening retail, and increase mobility beyond its current level. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown had wanted red, which would reopen indoor dining and bars and gyms and casinos and everything else. Now the province will decide.Meanwhile, both Peel and Toronto saw their number of the more transmissible variants double in the last week: Peel from 400 to 749, and Toronto from 710 to 1,468. The variants ar

Even Ontario’s bizarre and messy vaccine rollout, and the spread of variants, will not stop our Roaring Twenties

Eventually, this time will be a memory, like everything else. Canada will start swimming in vaccines starting in April; the arguments will fade into summer. As someone once said, throw enough vaccine at a problem, it doesn’t matter how badly you actually do it.

But right now Canada is still watching Americans get vaccinated 24-7 at Yankee Stadium, and watching President Joe Biden promise that every American can get a vaccine by the end of May. America is poised to have a bacchanalian American summer, and good God, it could be like Mardi Gras at a college football game. Canada? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says end of September.

It will probably be sooner. But we have to get through the bumpy ending, first.

There haven’t been enough vaccines, but there will be. The worry was whether second-quarter deliveries would be regular rather than back-loaded as part of quarterly contracts, which could have meant waiting for a ton of vaccines as late as June. But according to sources familiar with the negotiations, Moderna is indicating that like Pfizer, it will deliver regularly starting in April.

Add the change in guidance to delay the second shot of Moderna and Pfizer — the National Advisory Council on Immunization approved delaying the second shot up to four months, which according to a SIREN survey in the United Kingdom dropped infection protection from 85 per cent to 70 per cent, though Quebec’s says 80 — and this whole thing will speed up, fast. (The decision, which lacked data, drew its own criticism from some in the medical community.) Measured by first shots, September could turn to June. But we have to wait until April to really hit the runway.

The rollout, too, is already messy. Ontario’s vaccine rollout has an ethical framework that includes transparency, but is remarkably opaque. Did anybody say aloud that police in Toronto would suddenly be moved to the front of the line, along with firefighters, last week? No, but there were 2,250 police getting vaccines before 80-pluses in the community, despite the province’s framework being heavily weighted towards age. Does anybody know what the actual provincial plan looks like, beyond its relatively vague structure? No. It’s a flow chart that doesn’t exist in the real world.

Can anyone plausibly explain why a registration portal won’t be ready until the one-year mark of the pandemic? And no, the explanation of not rushing, as offered by Minister of Health Christine Elliott, doesn’t qualify. Montreal is already booking appointments for people 70 and older.

And can anybody explain how doses are distributed by region? As the CBC’s Mike Crawley reported Wednesday, the city of Toronto has been short-changed on vaccine doses, and it turns out Peel has been, too.

In terms of total doses received, Toronto makes up 20 per cent of the province’s population, holds half of its doctors, and had received enough to vaccinate 6.5 per cent of the city population. Peel, which is the hardest-hit region in the province and has a huge number of essential workers and vulnerable populations, had enough to vaccinate 8.8 per cent. Haldimand-Norfolk had received 10.8.

Whatever explanation you want to give for that, it is almost impressive to undervaccinate the two hardest-hit population centres in the province, once somebody gives you the vaccines you had been asking for since December. This is the task force that vaccinated non-front-facing health-care workers over long-term-care residents in places like Niagara, though. Mistakes were made.

Luckily, some public health units started planning for vaccine distribution as early as spring of 2020, and have started to vaccinate their 80-plus population in the community. The province, meanwhile, formed its vaccine task force a week before the Moderna vaccine was approved.

This will all get sorted, and the gears will run smoother, and the vaccines will come. The prime minister reiterated Wednesday that the timeline remained end of September, and left open the idea that could move faster.

Thirty-five per cent of Americans would not take a vaccine or are not sure, by the way, to 21 per cent for Canada. The race for actual herd immunity could be closer than it looks.

But the road to herd immunity is still fraught with danger — the minefield, as Dr. Steini Brown, the co-chair of Ontario’s independent volunteer science table, put it last week — and the race between variants and vaccines isn’t over yet.

Both Peel and Toronto announced they would be open to exiting their stay-at-home status, into grey next week, which would involve opening retail, and increase mobility beyond its current level. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown had wanted red, which would reopen indoor dining and bars and gyms and casinos and everything else. Now the province will decide.

Meanwhile, both Peel and Toronto saw their number of the more transmissible variants double in the last week: Peel from 400 to 749, and Toronto from 710 to 1,468. The variants are approximately 40 per cent more transmissible; they constituted 30 per cent of the provincial total on Wednesday, and will continue to grow exponentially.

So it’s a race. Who will be the last soldier hospitalized in the war? Who will be the last one killed?

ICU capacity has been generally flat since the beginning of February, above 300 total, and enough variant spread could still tip that. The calculus for Ontario’s reopenings seems to be that people are tired, the business lobby is howling, the scientists are wrong, and the political price you might pay for unnecessarily letting variants spread into a third lockdown will be washed away in that sea of sweet, liberating, protective vaccine. Which, in a province that doesn’t seem to understand how much better this could have been, might even be true.

Eventually, this will be a memory. Eventually, this will be the year of happy ugly-crying, unwise marriages, unnecessary arrests, and an all-over explosion of pent-up everything. Barring a vaccine-resistant variant, our Roaring Twenties will arrive 100 years after the last ones. Let’s hope our 30s and 40s go better than they did the last time.

Let’s hope our next few months go better than last year’s, too.

Bruce Arthur is a Toronto-based columnist for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @bruce_arthur

Source : Toronto Star More