how long will pandemic last

Canada warns COVID-19 will be around for a lot longer

How long will the COVID-19 pandemic last in Canada? Well, according to the latest updates from federal officials, we're no longer talking about just a few months — we could now be looking at several years.

Here's what we know so far.

There's no COVID-19 vaccine yet

As of Wednesday, Canada is investing in two viable experimental vaccines made in the U.S., and there are about 55 vaccine and drug candidates currently being considered in Canada alone.

But we still don't have a way to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Even the vaccines that Canada has recently purchased won't be available until 2021, according to federal officials.

And even then, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautions that a vaccine shouldn't be viewed as an immediate solution to the ongoing pandemic.

"We can't at this stage just put all of our focus [on a vaccine] in the hopes that this is the silver bullet solution," she said, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday.

She added that Canadians have to be prepared to handle this pandemic over the next year, and potentially for the next two to three years, depending on how things progress.

Not everyone will take the vaccine

Even if a COVID-19 vaccine is found, Canadian federal government officials have said that it's unlikely they'll make it mandatory for the entire population.

Plus, there might not be enough doses to go around.

Tam said that it's "likely" that certain sectors of the Canadian population will have to be prioritized to receive the vaccination, depending on the availability of supplies.

Most Canadians aren't immune to the virus yet

Finding a vaccine wouldn't be an urgent issue if most Canadians had already contracted COVID-19, but only about one per cent of the population has been exposed, according to the latest data.

That means 99 per cent of Canadians are still vulnerable to the virus — and need to take precautions for the foreseeable future.

Face masks will be around for years

On that note, face masks will probably become a standard fashion accessory in Canada for the next two to three years, or at least until a viable vaccine is found.

Dr. Theresa Tam also said that safety measures such as physical distancing measures and limiting crowd sizes in public settings are probably here to stay for a few years, too.

Places in Canada are still struggling

Overall, Canada is doing pretty well at flattening the curve — but that's not true of all regions across the country.

Alberta, B.C. and Ontario are all seeing spikes in case numbers as cities and regions reopen more services.

On Tuesday, the Ontario government put the brakes on Windsor-Essex moving to the next stage of reopening, with Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens saying that it's "better that we take our time."

It might be cliché, but slow and steady really does win the race.

WHO says there might never be a "silver bullet" solution

Six months into the pandemic, the World Health Organization's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that we could be looking at the new normal.

"There's no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be," Ghebreyesus said in a statement on Monday.

"For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control."

There are currently almost 18 million COVID-19 cases worldwide and 680,000 deaths, and that number only continues to climb.

There's no telling exactly what the "new normal" will bring, but for now, it's safe to say that nothing's off the table; Canadians could be looking forward to fashionable masks and hand sanitizer in their stockings come December.

Lead photo by

Roozbeh Rokney

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