Looking across Howe Sound, which has now been designated a UNESCO biosphere, I can see the first snow caps on the coastal mountains. Time for the snowbirds to migrate to warmer climes, except we’re not flying south but instead are hunkering down before a fire, dreaming of sunny isles and swimming at the local pool instead of the Caribbean waters.
‘Good news Camp. Several European countries have declared the pandemic over and are returning to ‘normal’. Denmark, Sweden and Norway have removed all protocols and the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal have also announced that they’re lifting all the restrictions like distancing, and limiting crowds. They do however require vaccine proof when attending large gatherings like concerts or sports events.’
‘Those are also the countries with the highest vaccination rates: up to 90% as in Portugal and Ireland. They also have declining hospitalisations and fatalities.’
‘It was always about not overwhelming the health systems. Nobody says the virus is gone but these countries claim to have a handle on it.’
‘Portugal itself is a striking example of efficient management and compliance from the population,’ Camp said. ‘When Vice Adm. Henrique Gouveia e Melo, a former submarine squadron commander, was brought in to take control, the Portuguese Health System was in shambles. In the last week of January this year, 2000 people died thanks to the new Delta variant. The 6-foot-4 tall admiral demanded things be done his way, without interference from politicians. He hired a team of experts: mathematicians, epidemiologists, doctors and nurses. His strategy focused on mass vaccination hubs and a clear public message which he delivered night after night on TV, dressed in military fatigues to convey a sense of war. As rumours about blood clots linked to Astra-Zeneca panicked most of Europe he dismissed it as out of proportion. He put the risk in context by describing two roads: On the road for the vaccinated a sniper would kill one of every 500’000, on the road for the unvaccinated the same sniper would kill one of every 500. ‘Which road do you want?’ A clear and easy choice.’
Here at home, we have ‘Texas North’ as some refer to Alberta, where the campaign was led down a road of misery and death by their premier who was woefully out of step and out to lunch with his strategy of a ‘freedom summer.’ The sad results are now what is driving the Canadian pandemic of the un-vaxxed,’ I said.
We both savoured our beers looking out at the world beyond our comfy corner at the pub. We have solved many riddles and conundrums here over the years and yet nothing much seems to change, almost as if the rest of the world isn’t paying attention.
‘As the Republicans are trying to bring about financial and social Armageddon, veering ever further towards the fanatical maw of a cultlike, vigilante and libertarian fascism, the other half of the population is trying to do the right thing, bringing about some serious climate change and improved healthcare policies which ironically will benefit everybody, even those who are most fervently against everything coming from liberal, educated and community concerned people,’ I lamented.
‘It’s a moral, social and educational divide which is inherently American, ever since their civil war 150 years ago. It’s still the confederates against the union,’ Camp said, finishing his pint.
‘How is the beer?’ Vicky asked, bring us two refills.
‘Empty,’ Camp said, ‘and just in time.’