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Empty vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine lie in a box during a vaccine campaign at the Vaccine Village in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany, May 15, 2021.

Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press

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Vaccine-tired

Re Vaccine Hesitancy Is A Big Threat, But We Must Approach It With Compassion (Opinion, May 8): I am tired of reading that we should treat vaccine hesitancy with understanding; I think that ship has sailed.

We should treat vaccines in the same way as drivers licences. They are necessary to protect drivers from harm, as well as protecting others on the road. If people insisted on driving without a licence, would we treat them with kindness and compassion, and patiently explain why one is necessary? No.

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Vaccines should be mandatory for all front-line workers, especially those in hospitals and care homes. If they refuse, then take them “off the road” so that they can’t harm others.

Rosalie Coburn Ottawa


Re More Provinces Reject AstraZeneca Vaccine (May 13): Please do not let any precious vaccines expire. Send them to pharmacies where many of us will gladly sign up for second doses tomorrow.

As for the new ones still to come: Do the same – or send them to India! Don’t waste one vial.

Carol Town Hamilton


So if I choose to not be vaccinated and accept the risks of COVID-19, even though that decision may endanger others, that is my right. But If I choose to receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and accept the risk of blood clots, even though that decision may safeguard others, I may be denied that right.

The Four Horsemen of this apocalypse: plague, ignorance, duplicity and expediency.

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John Ryall Toronto

Pay gaps

Re Nurses Frustrated By Doctors’ Higher Pay Rate At Vaccine Clinics (May 13): My daughter, an emergency resident (a physician but still in specialty training) in Ottawa, has been in training almost continuously since she graduated from high school in 2004. It will be at least two more years before she is in independent practice. She gave COVID-19 vaccinations for zero extra dollars, as per her employment contract. Is this fair?

There are historical and practical reasons why we see different pay scales for people doing the same vital work, often side by side: registered nurses and licensed practical nurse, midwives and obstetricians, general practitioners and nurse practitioners, psychologists and psychiatrists. Professional compensation is clearly not a simple issue, even in a pandemic – even when “volunteering” to give vaccinations.

Gail Saiger Victoria

Patently false?

Re A Misguided Debate About Patent Waivers (Editorial, May 11): Claims that developing economies neither have nor could develop necessary skills, expertise and infrastructure for complex technologies seem overdone. Otherwise, why so strenuously protect intellectual property?

As many progressive economists and lawyers have shown, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) regime has enabled big companies to accrue massive economic rents and stifled technological innovation in many fields since its introduction, often at the expense of the Global South. Given the shocking disparities in vaccine distribution, should these governments simply await belated Northern charity of doses no longer wanted or needed?

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Like many Western democracies, Canada decries the crisis of multilateralism. But it should be part of the solution, not the problem.

Sanjay Ruparelia Jarislowsky Democracy Chair, Ryerson University; Toronto

Phone home

Re CSIS Warned Ottawa About Two Scientists At Winnipeg Disease Lab (May 12): In 1988, I was invited by the World Bank to visit China. I was to review progress in the field of biology by a provincial university that it had funded.

One meeting with senior administrators also included Chinese Communist Party members. I later asked one of them if they were concerned that so many international students in Canada were electing not to return to China at the time. I received a clear answer that they were not.

I was told that probably half the students would return, while the other half would send back money and information.

John Steele London, Ont.

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Drinkin’ and gamblin’

Re As The Pandemic Begins To Ebb, Newfoundland’s Fiscal Fire Roars Again (May 12): How on earth could Newfoundland’s liquor distributor and lottery agency have accumulated debt? Surely there must have been a mistake. If the people running these two cash-cow Crown corporations aren’t producing consistent profit, then they should be fired.

Rhona Day Toronto

Challenging childbirth

Re A Difficult Birth (Opinion, May 8): The system for tracking maternal mortality across Canada already exists – in Mexico.

As part of its commitment to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, Mexico mandated in 2004 that all health institutions must report a maternal death within 24 hours. A national committee then undertook an analysis of a portion of these deaths and the circumstances surrounding them. It focused on locations with more than one reported death, and advised local institutions on how to improve services and avoid such outcomes.

The tracking system, in combination with other measures, helped reduce Mexico’s maternal mortality ratio. Canada does not have maternal health problems as severe as those Mexico faces, but probably does have inequities in access to and quality of maternal health care.

A national tracking system could help address these problems. If Mexico can do it, so can we.

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Lisa Mills Program director, bachelor of public affairs and policy management, Carleton University; Ottawa


As a physician who has cared for many obstetrical patients, I understand how dangerous childbirth used to be before modern medicine. Today, it can still kill young, healthy women unpredictably, and this should be acknowledged when choosing to become pregnant.

I absolutely agree that any mother lost to childbirth is terrible, but it is impossible to make it zero. Going back 100 years, childbirth was perilous for the exact same diagnosis contributor Emma Knight received: sepsis.

Applying the rules for COVID-19 may help when thinking about pregnancy and childbirth: Just because one is healthy doesn’t mean something bad can’t happen, including death. Prevention and following medical advice from trusted sources often greatly reduces risk. Going to a hospital, or being close to one when something goes wrong, will probably be life-saving.

Tim Roche MD, Kingston

High point

Re COVID-19 Reaches Mount Everest, Raising Fears Of Serious Outbreak Among Climbers And Locals (May 12): There is, apparently, no escaping it: COVID-19 has reached the world’s tallest mountain.

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Are we now going to find, among the three tons of rubbish left by climbers on the venerable summit, a pile of ubiquitous blue masks?

T.M. Dickey Toronto

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