NSW vs Ontario: Another Month

Welcome to Plugging the Gap (my email newsletter about Covid-19 and its economics). In case you don’t know me, I’m an economist and professor at the University of Toronto. I have written lots of books including, most recently, on Covid-19. You can follow me on Twitter (@joshgans) or subscribe to this email newsletter here. (I am also part of the CDL Rapid Screening Consortium. The views expressed here are my own and should not be taken as representing organisations I work for.)

For the past few months, I have been tracking NSW and Ontario as comparison cases for the Delta variant. The starting points were different because Ontario had achieved 75%+ vaccination for its 12+ population. NSW was still rolling out the vaccine but much of the state was in a strict lockdown. The other day, NSW passed 80% of its 16+ population fully vaccinated and restrictions started to be eased.

Last month, the kids in Ontario had just returned to school. The concern was that this would lead to a further outbreak. As can be seen here, that didn’t occur.

The prevalence in NSW is higher than in Ontario because the latter has a larger population. But you can see the potential value of being vaccinated going into a new variant compared with having to deal with a lockdown. The outbreak was relatively stunted in Ontario and there were far fewer economic and social costs.

Over this time period, temperatures in the two regions were not dissimilar. But NSW is heading into summer and Ontario is heading into winter. Winter will be the true test of whether vaccinations can provide resilience. There is also the issue of waning immunity that will hit Ontario before NSW.

There’s not much new to be drawn from this exercise but it provides some sort of window on events.