A Tale of Three Countries

A Tale of Three Countries 150 150 CloudGovCo

This week May 20 we step back from the Cloud to again look at #Covid and the responses in Canada, USA and UK compared to Italy.

Italy was badly affected at the outset but its response was hard and fast with a complete lockdown of Lombardy. The graph of Italy’s recovery (John Hopkins University May 18) is very narrow and steep. This is typical of many countries that went for suppression instead of mitigation.

Covid cases in Italy

Italy had 500 cases on March 01

Contrast this with the shape of the recovery graphs for USA, UK and Canada, which are very broad with a shallow recovery slope. These three amigos were forced into a mitigation strategy because their initial response was weak and slow. Now they are united in easing out of lockdown before testing and contact tracing are fully in place, and they risk a long and painful recovery.

Covid cases in USA

USA had 500 cases March 12


Covid cases in UK

UK had 500 cases March 18

Take Canada as a more detailed example. It’s highest number of daily cases was a spike of 2,800 on April 5. But if we take April 21 as more representative of the peak with 1,700 cases versus 1,100 on May 18, this is an average daily reduction of 1.29%. At this rate, Canada will not achieve 500 cases per day — the point at which it declared an emergency — for another 62 days. (Admittedly this assumes a linear response.) This is in the third week of July.

Covid cases in Canada

Canada had 500 cases March 23

There are different politics in play.

In Canada the provinces of Ontario and Quebec failed to control March break (British Columbia took a different approach) and holiday travellers returning to their Toronto and Montreal airports. The result is these two provinces are at the centre of the pandemic in Canada. Montreal is now the seventh deadliest place in the world for daily deaths with an uncertain future. Like the UK, Canada failed to safeguard care homes for the elderly. And guidance from the Government of Canada has also sometimes lagged guidance from the WHO and CDC by 10 days.

In the USA there has been complete chaos resulting in the worst pandemic response globally and the highest deaths in the world. President Trump has encouraged armed protesters to attack legislatures in states that have Democratic governors while he muses about injecting bleach and gulps hydroxychloroquine pills “because I think it’s good, I heard a lot of good stories … I take a pill every day.”

In the UK the national government has been acting like schoolboys trying to outdo each other in a debating club. You could not make up their guidance, from saying car pooling is ok if the driver doesn’t look at you to you can’t visit both your parents at the same time but if you meet someone else’s parents in public that’s ok.

The UK government, relying on behavioural scientists rather than public health experts, bumbled at every step from its abandoned policy of herd immunity – which delayed the lockdown until later than in other countries – to its inexplicable decision on March 12 to stop community testing.

Recent studies paint a consistent picture: across countries, the restrictions being put in place by governments are effective to slow the pandemic. If a government delivers an effective testing and contact-tracing strategy that brings the virus under control by the time lockdown measures are lifted, health authorities would have measures in place to identify and curb incipient outbreaks like those in Germany and Seoul.