Canada has surpassed us on vaccinations. – .

Canada has surpassed us on vaccinations. – .

Three months ago, Canada, which does not have a national COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer, was far behind the United States on immunization. Only 3% of its population was fully vaccinated. Canadians sadly watched friends and relatives south of the border line up for gunfire, while residents of Toronto and Montreal suffered repeated blockades.
Not anymore. Last month, Canada surpassed the United States in the share of its population fully immunized – 58% on Friday, compared to 49% in the United States – to take first place among the seven major industrial democracies. (The United States ranks sixth, ahead of Japan only.)

How did Canada, the country most like the United States, do so much better, even though it had to wait longer for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to deliver their vaccines?

The simple answer is that in Canada, the pandemic has not become a politically polarized problem, as it has in the United States.

Canada’s major political parties, including the opposition Conservatives, joined in unqualified support for mass immunization early on. Leading politicians have not dismissed vaccination as unnecessary, denied mask warrants, or attacked scientists.

When Andrew Scheer, then Conservative leader, criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year over the vaccination program, it was to complain that he was not delivering the vaccines quickly enough.

Canadians argued over how quickly to lift limits on public gatherings, restaurants and retail stores, but their debates were stifled by U.S. standards. The country’s toughest lockdown was imposed by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, a populist conservative who has been compared to former President Trump.

“I can’t stand the blockages,” complained Ford, but he stuck to his health experts’ recommendation to maintain the restrictions until nearly 80% of Ontarians have received their first doses. vaccine.

Like the United States, Canada has anti-vaccines – a little less. An Angus Reid Institute poll last month found that only 8% of Canadians said they definitely did not intend to get a COVID vaccine, including 15% of Conservative Party voters. Surveys in the United States have found refusal rates at least twice as high.

And there is a clue to a deeper and more complex explanation for Canada’s vaccine success compared to that of the United States: the underlying differences between countries’ political cultures and, in particular, their conservative parties.

“There’s a lot less polarization in Canada overall,” Peter Loewen, a political scientist at the University of Toronto, told me. “There isn’t much you can do politically to appear anti-science in Canada; there is in the United States.

Canadians also differ from Americans in that they are more likely to trust their government to do the right thing. Frank Graves of Ekos Research, an Ottawa pollster, noted that in a poll last year, Americans’ confidence in Washington was only 17%; the confidence level in Canada was 37%, about twice as high.

“In Canada, our numbers actually increased during the pandemic, as people viewed government as a source of salvation,” he told me. “Confidence in government, science, and public health are all interrelated, and these are all key predictors of anti-vax sentiment. “

Another difference: the Conservative Party of Canada is more moderate than the post-Trump Republican Party.

“There is a tendency towards authoritarian populism in both parties, but it has become the dominant faction of the Republican Party; it’s not as important in Canada, ”said Graves.

Ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the Canadian Leger poll asked Canadians if they would vote for Trump or Joe Biden. Among all Canadians, Biden was the favorite, by a whopping 84%; even Conservative Party voters preferred Biden over Trump, at 59%.

One final difference: Canada has no equivalent of Fox News spreading misinformation about COVID vaccines.

“We have a more centrist media system, with a dominant government-owned broadcast network,” Loewen said, referring to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. “It’s hard to quantify the impact, but it’s clear there is. “

Of course, not everyone is impressed with Canada’s pandemic measures. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently derided them as an example of what not to do.

“We were the main state fighting coronavirus lockdowns,” he boasted on Fox News. “I think if Florida hadn’t done that you would see that the other states would have followed Canada, [which is] still locked up.

But the governor must be careful of the comparisons he invites.

Florida dominated the United States in COVID-19 cases last week, and more than 39,000 Sunshine State residents have died from the disease.

Canada, with a much larger population, has recorded an estimated 27,000 deaths from COVID. Its per capita death rate is less than half that of Florida.

This should make even Republicans wonder: what is Canada doing right?


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