English Filipino Opinion

Will We See the Corner of This Path We Are In?

In the past few days, I’ve read two articles referring to Canada’s vaccine supply. They mentioned that this country has ordered vaccines enough to vaccinate its 38.4 million people 5 times over; thus, describing Canada as a “vaccine hoarder”.  My definition of hoarding is the act of taking more than enough items which are already in supply, such as toilet paper or canned goods, as what happened at the start of this pandemic. It does not cover ordering something that isn’t there yet. Canada, in my opinion, is just covering its bases since it doesn’t have the facilities to manufacture vaccines. Rehashing the issue of how this happened, given its history with SARS in 2003 or looking to blame China for this virus is a moot point. But then again, this is just my opinion.

 

As this nation grapples with vaccine supply, Ontario, with a population of 14 million, has extended its stay-at-home order to May 20th. Not easy for a city dweller like me even if I received my first dose of Pfizer almost a month ago, the second dose to come in July. There have been queries about the gap between the doses but I don’t question this when I see Canadians belonging to the demographics of 40, 30, even 20 still waiting to get vaccinated. I support the decision to delay the second dose in an effort to get the vaccine in as many Ontario arms as possible to lessen the pressure on hospitals and  their ICUs.

 

I admit to feeling envious over Israel’s achievement of herd immunity. And I applaud President Netanyahu and his cabinet for this feat. I’ve always maintained that small countries like Israel and New Zealand can be successful in dealing with this virus. On the other hand, the US, with its population of 331.42 million is a different story. A year ago, everyone watched as NYC became the epicentre of this virus in North America. There was a sense of helplessness as we hunkered down after the pandemic was declared official by WHO. Until a few months ago, Americans were banned from entering major cities in Europe and US-Canada borders were closed, subject to negotiation every month because of the US’s surging numbers. Then, the vaccines came and roll outs ensued. As of April 25th, 28.5% of the US population had been fully vaccinated and nearly 40% has gotten the first dose. Europe is now hinting on opening its major cities to Americans who are willing to travel. What a difference a few months make.

 

Tourism comprises the bulk of economy in big cities like Toronto. Before the pandemic, the economic impact of tourism in this city amounted to 10.3 billion dollars in the form of thriving local businesses, development of infrastructures, job creation, and even cultural exchange between locals and tourists. With the pandemic, the city lost 8.35 billion dollars in tourism. This is a hard pill to swallow. Construction of highrises is still ongoing. So is the filming of movies. A week ago, there was a film crew at the U of T campus. Hoskins Avenue and Devonshire Street have been the on and off again venues of a film production. A tent was set up beside the back campus of Hart House and designated as a Covid testing area. I noticed there were more trailers than before the pandemic when this area was the frequent venue of a film shoot, presumably done for physical distancing among the stars and crew. On the other hand, along the posh side of Bloor Street, there have been closures of boutiques whose mother companies were based in the US. And, of course, with the strict travel regulations in place in all borders, notably the Pearson International Airport, there hasn’t been any influx of tourists. If Toronto suffers from this pandemic and Canada is already a first world country, I can only imagine how other big cities like Manila, where I came from before immigrating here , or NYC, which had 66.6 million visitors annually and which made 105 billion dollars in business sales, are doing now.

 

Will we ever turn the corner? In fact, will we ever see that corner? While this is hard to fathom at the moment, with 3,510 COVID  cases registering today alone in Ontario,  I am positive we will. Once the vaccination roll outs go into full gear, we will see see that corner and turn.

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