If you really want to blow your mind, try to keep up with what’s going on in the U.S. right now… it is uncharted territory in so many different aspects that it’s impossible to keep up with all of it. Not just because it changes by the hour, but because there’s just too much to process and there are too many unknowns. Whatever I write will be out of date by the time you read it, so let’s talk about something that’s not so fast-moving… like vaccine deployment.
I realize the U.S. has a lot on its mind these days, so perhaps it’s no surprise that things are lagging behind a bit. They’d planned to vaccinate 20 million people by January 1st. They’re at roughly 8 million. There are many problems with the distribution, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve got 64% of their doses sitting on shelves. Indeed, Pfizer and Moderna have done their part; they’ve distributed more than 22 million doses. That they haven’t found their way into arms is a logistical problem.
Closer to home, you might be surprised to learn that the country that has over-ordered more vaccine than anyone else is… Canada. We’ve ordered 414 million doses… and the simple math of 414 divided by 38 equals more than 10 doses for every man, woman and child in this country. Why? Good question… cover all the bases, you don’t know what’s going to work, you don’t know the timelines, you don’t know anything… let’s spread out the risk. Let’s hedge every bet we can. Such is the luxury available to wealthy nations.
Back in April, the World Health Organization realized that it was going to be the rich countries getting their hands on the vaccine first… and sought to find a way to equalize things for the impoverished nations of the world. They formed an initiative called COVAX… which hopes to secure 2 billion doses of vaccine for those nations that can’t do it on their own. Canada has pledged to provide COVAX with whatever we won’t need… though the timing of what that looks like is anyone’s guess. Will we dish some out slowly when we realize it’s all arriving at so so fast that there’s no logistical way to make use of it? There are reports in the U.S. of vaccine simply going to waste; after all of the effort, the last mile of the journey – from vial to arm… just doesn’t make it.
Like any chain, supply or mechanical, the usefulness/efficiency is measured by the weakest link. Outside of Israel, up to now, getting doses into people seems to be the choke point. As time goes on, one would hope those wrinkles get worked out… because at the pace things are at now… well, let’s do a bit more math.
Canada is presently vaccinating 40,000 people per day. It would take 950 days (two and a half years) to get to everyone. In B.C., at present, we’re averaging around 5,150 people per day. The only thing good about that number is it makes the math easy to divide into our 5.15 million people… ie, 1,000 days… 2.7 years.
It would be nice to be able to blame someone else other than ourselves when it comes to how slow it’s going… and it looks like, very soon, that’ll be the case. While recently we were only able to get around 65% of what we had into arms… we’ll be approaching 100% very soon… and from then on, injecting as fast as we can get it. Assuming that’s true, it’s encouraging for when vaccine deliveries ramp up. We’re being told March for that… where we might see a significant jump in availability. That plus the fact that not everyone will get it plus the fact not everyone needs it for herd immunity… my 2.7 years is the edge of the worst-case scenario. It can only get better, and it will. The only question is by how much.
I spoke above about the U.S. and how they’ve only managed to serve up 36% of their vaccine on hand. They’re doing around 300,000 injections a day these days, which extends out to 1,100 days… 3 years till they get to everyone. Of course, that number will go down quickly as they figure it out as well… and the fact that half the people don’t want it anyway… but, for now, they have other things to worry about. It’s hard to believe that there’s a pandemic raging down there, infecting more than 200,000 people per day and killing more than 2,000… and that’s not even remotely close to their biggest problem.
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