Canada has managed the COVID-19 pandemic better from a public health perspective, coming away with lower infection and death rates than a dozen similarly developed countries.
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That’s at least the conclusion of University of Toronto researchers, who conclude in a study published Monday in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) that Canada ranks second only to Japan in the number of related deaths COVID-19, at 919 people per million.
Canada also ranks second in excess mortality, the index recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for such studies. Italy and the United States come last in this category.
“Taking into account the uncertainty of causality, we can hypothesize that high vaccination percentages and good compliance with ongoing public health restrictions explain at least some of Canada’s good results in reducing the health burden associated with SARS-CoV-2 limit,” explain the four co-authors, all professors of medicine at the University of Toronto.
If Canada’s infection rate were the same as, say, France, nearly 9 million more Canadians would have been infected, they argue.
At the same time, a death rate similar to that in the United States would have sent the number of deaths skyrocketing by 70,000, nearly double the number previously associated with the coronavirus (41,566 deaths as of June 24).
Note that the authors analyzed the first two years of the pandemic and relied on data from February 4, 2020 to February 8, 2022. This rules out the peak of contamination from last April.
Little studied effects
Canadian government and provincial public health decisions have resulted in certain adverse impacts for which a single cause is difficult to identify.
The authors state that “social and economic effects are also evident”, but do not dare to hypothesize.
Among the ten countries surveyed, Canada recorded the largest decrease in the ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to population: between the months of December 2019 and 2021, this ratio decreased by -1.36%, while 6 out of 10 countries recorded an increase, such as Sweden ( +2.81%) and the United States (+2.72%).
In addition, Canada ranks third in the list of countries whose debt ratio has increased the most over the same period (+23.1%), after the United States (+24.8%) and the United Kingdom (23.30%). ).
It is certain that government decisions have an impact on the economy, and that the economy has an impact on people’s health, but the lack of data and retrospective events limits understanding.
As the authors point out, Canadians have experienced particularly long school closures as well as some of the harshest border measures.
In the event of new waves of COVID-19 or other highly contagious viruses, the researchers recommend carefully weighing the pros and cons of any policy decision.