Monday, August 30, 2021

No Future

Andrew Nikiforuk writes that expecting governments to fight COVID is yet another example of misplaced faith:

When governments play with viral fires, it is ordinary citizens, including our unvaccinated children, that get burned.

And so the fourth wave has arrived in our midst like some crazed arsonist in a dry forest under a heat dome.

This is what happens when a reckless political class ignores history (pandemics have long tails); abandons effective control measures; preaches the gospel of unwarranted optimism; surrenders any duty of care, and abandons the unvaccinated (children) to high risk and uncertainty.

His focus is on Canadian -- not American -- governments:

In Canada, Alberta stands out as a risible example of this political and moral collapse.

A rudely inept government has refused to address rising caseloads, just as they did repeatedly in two previous waves. (Intransigent governments, whether of the left or the right, tend to behave badly, consistently.)

The Jason Kenney administration can’t even release modelling figures promised a month ago.

And the independent BC COVID-19 Modelling Group calculates that the trajectory of infections in the province will explode from 800 a day to 4,000 in the next two weeks without interventions.

The Trudeau government, which botched the nation’s entire pandemic response (if this wasn’t an emergency calling for national standards, than what the hell is?), obviously doesn’t want Delta’s exponential growth to influence a completely unnecessary election.

The same irresponsible panjandrums who wilfully let the third wave of COVID overwhelm the capacity of acute care hospitals in Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba ignorantly set the scene for a fourth wave.

So be warned: governments that reduce the pandemic to stats on the dead and the recovered are minimizing the complexity and severity of this pandemic.

There are other countries that have done much better:

Countries that have pursued elimination (Zero COVID), such as New Zealand and Taiwan, don’t have long COVID or clogged hospitals to worry about. They used layers of public health measures including effective border controls to eliminate community transmission altogether. They banished fear and restored confidence. And they did so without vaccines.

France’s Molinari Economic Institute recently compared the performance of Zero COVID jurisdictions with G10 nations with no discernible plan other than waiting for the vaccine. The results are jaw-dropping. In the U.K., for example, the economic downturn was nine times more pronounced in 2021 than in New Zealand. Moreover, the U.K. resorted to more stringent measures affecting civil rights than New Zealand ever has. (New Zealand, which hasn’t had a COVID case in six months and only 26 deaths for the entire pandemic, is now battling an outbreak with a strict lockdown.)

So what's to be done?

The institute’s recommendation: Couple vaccine campaigns with a Zero COVID approach.

Without such an approach children become victims:

By removing mask requirements and other protective measures, many governments from Florida to Alberta have left their young children vulnerable to mass infection — a careless and unethical act.

So what happens when you vaccinate about 70 per cent of the population, lift mask protocols and other measures, but leave children under 12 completely unprotected because they haven’t been jabbed?

Well, you push the pandemic into unvaccinated populations. (It could be another six months before researchers complete vaccine trials for children.)

And then what happens when authorities order children back to poorly ventilated schools with mostly ill-conceived health protocols as the Delta variant surges?

The outcome, like so much of this pandemic, is highly predictable: thousands of children have already been hospitalized in the U.S. Throughout the south and Midwest, pediatric hospitalizations have broken all pandemic records. As one doctor told the Wall Street Journal: “This is different than we saw before. We weren’t sustaining those numbers months ago.”

It's an old and ugly truth: Any society which does not nurture its children has no future.

Image: AZ Quotes


Anonymous said...

We're witnessing an extremely reckless and cavalier approach to this never ending pandemic, and just for measure, yet another new variant of the Delta strain will be making the rounds to a restaurant and school near you. The sad, sinister truth in all of this mess is that the very rich have seen their wealth grow in the same exponential pattern as new infections. To control the pandemic is to go back to meagre growth in wealth. That will not happen, and the mouthpieces go out and confuse an already undereducated public to reject their best interests. To top it off, looks like we'll be getting Kenney's mentor on a federal level, way to go Canada. BC Waterboy

Owen Gray said...

Wisdom, waterboy? We could do so much better. But we choose not to.

ffd said...

Trudeau has handled this unprecedented health disaster well, considering he has a minority government and he has to have the agreement of at least one other party to do anything. Also health matters are supposed to be provincial matters which makes any centralized approach difficult.

He had the boldness and foresight to order vaccines very early, while they were still being developed which I think was a considerable risk but one that has paid off. Last time I looked about 80% of Canadians have had at least one shot and over 60% had both.

Many countries did not do this and now getting vaccines is a lot more competitive. I don't think the Tories would have done this: they lack imagination and knowledge of just about everything outside of their own narrow lives. They would have been pinching pennies and we probably would have had an American style epidemic.

But I think governments at all levels were far too tolerant of rule breaking and people generally just wanted to ignore infractions rather than speak up. I was in a hospital waiting room with only seriously ill patients and this guy was pacing up and down yelling into a cellphone without a mask. No enforcement at all unless someone complained. So I did, but I got pretty tired of always being the only one to speak up
and watching others benefit from my actions with no risk to themselves.

This virus responds rather closely to public behavior, so far anyway. Some people seem to expect Trudeau to be God, perfect in every way, and blame him for the pandemic happening at all.

Owen Gray said...

I'm not sure that any of our other leaders would have done better than Trudeau, ffd. That said, will needed a get to zero policy -- then and now.

The Disaffected Lib said...

Yes, Trudeau placed plenty of vaccine orders - after he was fingered for leaving us unprepared and vulnerable. He was never willing to go very far beyond that. As Nikiforuk points out, Trudeau could have invoked the federal emergency power to get the premiers into line but didn't. Playing it safe is his standard operating procedure.

Canada ought to have had a new Connaught-grade lab by now capable of developing new vaccines for this mutating virus. Where is it?

He's doing the same thing with climate change, our greatest threat, still throwing money into the coffers of the fossil energy giants and, as the IMF revealed, far more under the table in grants, deferrals and free access to essential resources such as water. He's promised to cut off the over-the-table cash gravy train in 2025 but he has a history of over-promising and under-delivering. Meanwhile his crews keep laying that infernal pipeline to the sea.

Trudeau is a consummate bullshitter. We've had six years to figure that out. He does, not what's best for Canada, but what's best for his Liberal government. We will pay dearly for that.

Owen Gray said...

It's beginning to look like that's what will happen, Mound.

zoombats said...

There's only three times in my ageing memory that I can say I have been sucked in. Muldoon in "84", scrap the GST. in "93 and "electoral reform"in 2015.Great lies told by not so great men with the latest being more of a child than anything else. Just colour me disinterested in the "consummate bullshit(ter)". One day there might be someone deserving of trust but they will come from a different side of the tracks .

Anonymous said...

Ontario is headed back to school in a week without Covid being added to the list of required immunizations for students 12 and up. Parents have had all summer to get their kids vaccinated and schools have been sending out regular updates on vaccination clinics, but adding Covid to the list is apparently too much to ask.

The vaccine is mandatory for teachers and staff, but religious and medical exemptions are available. MDs and NPs report being flooded with requests for medical exemptions and I'm sure religious leaders are too. Since schools are only reporting anonymized data on staff vaccinations, parents and students will have no way of knowing exactly what risks they're taking. No data will be available on student vaccination rates, making the concept of informed consent a joke.

So, as Ontario daily cases creep back up over 700 (with much lower rates of testing) a new wave is inevitable. It will affect mostly young people and be driven primarily by school reopening. Deaths will not be anything like what we saw last fall and winter, and Ford will clap himself on the back. Meanwhile ERs and ICUs will be packed, and like in the US people requiring emergency medical intervention will not get it. But they won't go down as dying of Covid, so all is well as far as our leaders are concerned.


ffd said...

The NDP was the passive partner of the Liberals. Trudeau wouldn't have lasted long without their support and sometimes the support of the Tories. That's how a minority
government works and they mostly don't last as long as Trudeau's.

If Trudeau had proposed anything as unpopular as federal emergency powers, there would have been huge resistance from the general population, some of whom won't even wear masks or get vaccinated,and from both the lesser parties. His government probably would have fallen pronto. A minority government is a delicate balancing act.

The same situation goes for a get to zero policy, which I agree with, by the way. Trudeau is really in a no win situation. He is considered a tyrant if he pushes too hard on the necessary demands of the virus and pandemic control, and weak if he doesn't. Yet he has still managed to function fairly effectively which must have taken some doing.

As for supporting his own party, of course he does. He is supposed to. The NDP, Tories and Greens are exactly the same. That's what politics are about. If you play on a sports team, you aren't supposed to spend the game selling ice cream to the fans. Anyway I don't think Canadians have been totally neglected even though he supports his own party.

It is interesting how the NDP have distanced themselves from their supportive role in the last government. Their now forgotten support may have been passive but it was crucial.

Owen Gray said...

You can sense the anger building, zoombats. We'll have to see what -- and who -- will be left behind.

Owen Gray said...

The human capacity for Folly is truly amazing, Cap.

Owen Gray said...

As was the case with Jack Layton, ffd, the NDP is quite capable of dancing with the Conservatives. That said, I'm still not making any predictions. Perhaps I'm being foolish, too.

jrkrideau said...

(if this wasn’t an emergency calling for national standards, than what the hell is?)

Nikiforuk is making the same idiotic mistake that O'Toole & Singh keep making. Health care is a provincial matter. Is Nikiforuk suggesting that Trudeau should have followed his father's example and declared the current version of the War Measures Act? Absent that I don't see how we get "national standards"

New Zealand and Taiwan are unitary governments.

Owen Gray said...

You've hit on our central issue, jrk. We have to solve problems as a federation.

jrkrideau said...

@ Owen
We have to solve problems as a federation.

With the singular exception of Alberta (BTW has anyone seen Jason recently?) and, to a minor extent, Ontario the federal gov't and the provinces usually seem to be able to negotiate things fairly well. The problem is that these things take a lot of time. A lot of time. I think the national pharma insurance program has been in the works for at least 3 years, formally.

Still it's better than international negotiations--- well probably. The trade treaty with the EU, IIRC, took 7 years of formal negotiation.

Owen Gray said...

The problems we face these days get worse, jrk, because we waste time.