There are plenty of different racing styles when it comes to horses, but as the far extremes go, it’s like this:
On one ends of the spectrum are horses that have only one gear… the “GO” gear. Most jockeys are unable to control these horses’ pace, so there’s no sense in trying; it only frustrates the horse… and uses up their energy anyway. So… they let the horse floor it, and the horse sprints to the front… and you hope there’s enough gas in the tank (ie. stamina) to hold that lead to the end.
On the far other end of the spectrum are horses who are in no hurry. They’ll start slow, sit dead last, and at some point, hopefully, find another gear or three to make a late run for it.
The latter ones are the most nerve-wracking… whether you own/train/groom the horse… or just bet a few bucks on it, seeing it dead last by half a mile is never a relaxing experience. I can think of many examples of horses coming from out of nowhere, but perhaps the best example is the 2009 Kentucky Derby; that’s worth a look on YouTube if you’ve never seen it. The winner, Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot, was so far out of it, you can barely see him in most of the video. At one point, the announcer loses track of the fact that there’s yet another horse behind the one he thought was last. What happens next is quite remarkable. Look for the #8 horse with the pink saddle cloth.
Similarly, Canada, in the horse race of vaccination, was a good 40 lengths behind the leaders, taking its time while everyone sprinted off towards the finish line. But recently, Canada, like Mine That Bird at the quarter pole, managed to find a gear nobody was expecting.
In the next day or two, as per the numbers and pictures below, Canada will have, per capita, more first injections into people than the U.S… and we’re blowing by other countries at the same pace Mine That Bird reeled-in his competition.
Recently, Canada, on a daily basis, is averaging vaccinating around 0.9% of its population. The U.S. never really got above 0.7%, and now they’re averaging around 0.2%… and today, they barely managed 0.1%. It’s like one horse, in top gear, screaming down the lane… and the other one, out of gas, easing back… out of contention. Up ahead, the jockey on Canada (I guess that’s all of us, collectively) can see some other front-runners starting to tire… Chile, Hungary, the U.K. We’re going to pass them all.
That being said, a win here is not finishing ahead of anyone; a win here is everyone hitting the line together, sooner than later… and there are two issues that conspire to prevent that: supply and demand, often at odds with each other.
In Canada, we have lots of both, and the politicians weren’t lying; the infrastructure to deliver everything we can get our hands on is in place, and it’s working very well. We’re taking full advantage of it. Until recently, I thought my 17-year-old daughter wouldn’t be vaccinated for another few months. It’ll actually be in another few… hours.
How long will this momentum last? When you assume infinite supply, it all comes down to demand… and that’s the wall the U.S. has hit. Everyone who wants a vaccine has had every opportunity to get one, so now it’s a trickle of people, not the full-on stampede we’re experiencing here.
The real win, for any particular country, province, state, region, whatever… is to surpass the threshold of herd immunity. The U.S., by virtue of vaccinations alone, will not get there. At least 25% of Americans have flatly stated they refuse to be vaccinated. Unless they change their mind, their theoretical best-case scenario is 75%.
Will Canada? It remains to be seen. Our “No way I’m getting vaccinated!!” number is 9%… while 88% of Canadians have said they will or already have. If we don’t “run out of horse”, at the current pace, we’ll be hitting that threshold by mid-June. In fact, at the current pace, we’d theoretically hit 100% by mid-July.
It’ll be interesting to see at what point that line flattens out. Anything north of 80% would be huge… and I wouldn’t bet on it exceeding 85%… but then again, I didn’t bet on Mine That Bird either, so who knows; once in a while, those long-shots pay off… and if this particular horse comes in, it doesn’t matter who you bet on… we all win.