Healthy economies depend on healthy societies


During this pandemic, the first sign I had that something serious was happening was when I noticed toilet paper was disappearing from stores where we were staying in San Tan Valley Arizona. The next thing that made me think something was happening , was when the National Basketball Association suspended their entire season. Then I knew it was very serious. No toilet paper and no  basketball. This is indeed serous stuff.

Then I started to notice things were shutting down. Like the golf course and pool where we were staying. Many businesses were shutting down. I wondered where would we get our food? I was not keen on driving into the desert to harvest cactuses for eating and drinking. Who would be willing to work in stores? I had no idea. Neither did anyone else.

Then our Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said to Canadians out of the country that we should come home “while we can.” What did that mean? It sounded scary. Would we be stopped from returning to our own country? How would we get from Arizona to Manitoba? Where would we get food along the way? Where would we stay? Would we have to drive straight through? Many crazy thoughts started going through my head.

Then I started worrying about things like “supply chains.” I had never worried about them ever before. How secure was our food source? These were all scary thoughts. Thought I thought I would never have. And I hope I never have them again.

Since then I have come to realize that if global supply chains are disrupted that could have a major effect on my life. Later I realized those global supply chains were stronger than I would have thought. Food kept coming into Canada, though, still no toilet paper. Why was toilet paper a problem? I could not figure that one out.

Over the months that followed I stopped worrying about things like that. It would all work out. I did work out. So far at least.

More recently successful vaccine trials were announced in less than a year. By now at least 4 different vaccines have been approved in Canada. All though were developed outside the country. How would we get them, some of us worried? Have no fear our Prime Minister assured us. His government had invested early with vaccine manufacturers to buy their vaccines as soon as they were available. Our government had gambled millions of dollars to commit to buying vaccines so that manufacturers would produce them. The government paid millions of dollars “up front” before the manufacturers even said they had produced them and they worked and they were safe.  Then regulators around the world, like Health Canada, each with a phalanx of scientists at their call, looked at the scientific reports of the vaccine trials, blessed them and began to send them to government officials to dispense the vaccines. It seemed miraculous.

Everyone, except the doubters, wanted the vaccines as soon as possible. Even sooner than that. They pushed the Biden Administration in the US and the Trudeau government in Canada to get the vaccines “into arms”. The terminology makes it clear. This was to be done with haste and urgency. Canadians were very upset when its supply of vaccines was briefly interrupted by Pfizer on account of production upgrades that were needed to their plants in Europe. In Canada Trudeau was quickly described as incompetent. In the US, without a severance from their local suppliers, distribution of vaccines was ramped up swiftly.

Now some of us are starting to realize that those of us who live in rich countries must help those in the less fortunate countries. Not just because we are nice guys–which we are of course–but because it is in our self-interest. If they also don’t achieve herd immunities it is possible that this virus will keep mutating and evolving and perhaps overcome our powerful vaccines that we have been hoarding. We are in an arms race that we don’t want to lose. That would not be pretty.

I am amazed at what I have learned during this year of pandemic.

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