OTTAWA, ON (March 31, 2021): The latest update of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s COVID Misery Index shows that Canada remains the worst country among its peers in terms of the misery wrought by its ineffective response to the pandemic. By contrast, effective vaccine rollouts in the US and UK continue to produce better results for those countries.

According to health statistician Richard Audas, the designer of the COVID Misery Index, “while some countries have experienced significant declines in the incidence and deaths caused by COVID-19, Canada is facing yet another wave of the virus with too few of the sophisticated tools available to manage the disease.”

Out of 15 countries ranked in the study, Canada places at the very bottom of the list in the Response Misery category

Out of 15 countries ranked in the study, Canada places at the very bottom of the list in the Response Misery category, which tracks the stringency of our lockdowns, the effectiveness of our vaccine rollout, and our relative testing capacity. Canada is ranked 14th out of 15 on the Economic Misery category and 5th out of 15 on the Disease Misery category, for a combined ranking of 11th place overall, unchanged since the Index was first launched.

The COVID Misery Index is updated regularly to track changes in the trajectory of the pandemic. Its findings also reflect, in large part, criticism levelled at the federal government in a recent report from Canada’s Auditor General (AG).

According to the AG, Canada had a slow and disorganized response to the pandemic. Likewise, the COVID Misery Index finds that Canada performs worse than most peer countries in terms of controlling the reproduction rate of the virus. By failing to employ a more efficient testing regime, and without a quick vaccine response like the US or UK, Canada continues to be dependent on heavy-handed lockdowns to keep cases low, adding more misery for Canadians.

Furthermore, as noted in a recent commentary by MLI Senior Fellow Shawn Whatley, COVID-19 provided a stress test for Canada’s beleaguered health care system. If Canada had comparable hospital capacity to some peer countries, we would have been better equipped to handle the pandemic without the constant risk of overwhelming our system and without cancelling or delaying critical surgeries, diagnoses, or treatments.

“For the population aged 85+ the excess death rate was extremely high in Canada and out of proportion with the death rates from COVID-19 itself,” notes Audas. Excess deaths for Canadians aged 15+ are also substantially higher than many of our peers. “This data suggests that in the fight against the coronavirus, those with other health conditions are suffering.”

Looking forward, Audas recommends greater attention be placed on vaccinations and excess deaths. As some countries edge closer to herd immunity from vaccines and loosen restrictions on civil liberties, their overall misery will drop significantly. Countries like Canada, forced to employ public health restrictions due to lagging vaccinations, may continue to also see elevated excess death rates despite relatively low rates of infections.

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Brett Byers
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613-482-8327 x105

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