Back on Friday, March 13th, we were all so doe-eyed and naive.
COVID was killing thousands in Italy and in Canada we’d all just been sent to our rooms. It took only that weekend for most of us to frantically look for ways to divert ourselves.
This is when Jean and I discovered the Johns Hopkins dashboard that tracks the number of COVID cases and deaths – and rate of growth – in every country on earth. For weeks, we would check it in bed before we went to sleep as a source of comfort and authority, the way my grandfather did in Edmonton when he would tune in to the BBC News on the radio after dinner.
Back in March, New York was all red on the map. It began with Brooklyn, but soon spread to all five boroughs. And then it spilled over into New Jersey. Pretty soon, it was bright red too. But so were Spain and Britain and of course crazy Brazil. After a couple of months, Florida started turning red too.
We stopped looking for much of the summer because, why bother? Canada had this thing beat; our hospitals were empty; our compliance, full.
Come Fall, we never really went back to the site because, why bother? Infection rates are to the moon; our hospitals are dangerously full; our compliance, fitful; and our mood, resigned.
And I’m not talking about America where even the calmest, most credible authorities now say the pandemic is out of control. And the Thanksgiving Day Massacre isn’t until tomorrow.
I looked at the Johns Hopkins dashboard last night and nearly all of America is all red, all the time. The 12.5 million cases it’s endured is half again more than the entire population of New York City and swiftly approaching the entire population of Ontario.
But now, in the week that Toronto has been sent to its room a second time, there’s a new chart to divert us, though I think its hold on our attention will grow stronger over the next half year than the Johns Hopkins chart did in this past half.
This dashboard tracks the progress not of the pandemic, but of the vaccines created to kill it.
It’s ours courtesy of the Milkin Institute, founded in 1991 by Michael Milkin, whose Wikipedia biography describes him as “an American convicted felon, financier and philanthropist.” But it seems he’s clean-washed his reputation by doing good after doing well. $3.9 billion well.
Like the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracker, The Vaccine Tracker is constantly updated. As of yesterday, it’s tracking 236 vaccines in development. Of these, 40 are in clinical trials. The dashboard also has the Top 10 Leading Candidates, among them the three – BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, and Oxford/AstraZeneca – that have given us hope that our sentences may last only a year, ending sometime next March.
I’d far rather spend 10 minutes in bed tracking my future hopes instead of my past fears, and you may well too.
I’ve already bookmarked The Vaccine Tracker, though I can’t quite bring myself to delete my Johns Hopkins COVID tracker.
I also read today that some rich New Yorkers are paying “line-waiters” up to $80 an hour to sit in COVID test lines so they can get tested before they fly off to see their families this Thanksgiving weekend.
Just think what they’ll pay to have people wait in line to get their vaccine before Christmas.
Because, as Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for Washington’s “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine program, told the world last week, with a little bit of luck, America’s mass vaccination program could start in mid-December.
It would be nice if Canada’s started soon after.
Mr. Trudeau? …Dr. Tam? ….What can you tell us?
Nothing good, it seems.