Globe and Mail health columnist Andre Picard projects a scenario about how the COVID-19 pandemic will end, listing some challenges health professionals must overcome to vaccinate the population, and detailing continuing issues among the most vulnerable in our society.

Getting Started

Introduction to the article: have everyone read it

This lesson is designed for secondary level students

Subject Area(s) covered

Social studies, current events, health

New Terms to explain

V-Day, T.S. Eliot, Hollywood ending, indiscriminate, logistics, variants, herd immunity, annus horribilis suprema, pediatric, disparities, CERB, mutate, epidemiological, sporadic

Materials Needed

Access to the article

Study and Discussion Activity

Key things students can learn from this lesson

  • The current state, progress, and challenges of the COVID-19 vaccination program in Canada;
  • Some of the statistics related to the disease and their significance;
  • Some reasons why the pandemic will likely not end abruptly.

Action (here’s how we’ll do it)

This is a long article, and the longish exercise that follows it is suitable for more mature secondary students. NOTE: Be sensitive to the possibility that the material could be distressing for some students, in which case we recommend you discontinue the lesson.

Discuss with your group members, or teacher/caregiver supervisors, your feelings about the state of the pandemic and the way you think it will end—how you think the vaccines will work, and when life will return to normal.

  • Read the article, stopping to look up difficult words as needed.
  • To help you to understand and remember what you read, complete the following exercise:
    • What three common social practices are a long way off, and what practices will be with us for some time, yet?
    • How has the emergence of variants of COVID-19 changed the target for achieving herd immunity?
    • For which age group is the current vaccination system designed?
    • At what temperatures must each of these vaccines be stored: Pfizer? Moderna?
    • What lesson has Dr. Joanne Liu learned about pandemics?
    • What do these numbers refer to:
      • 82 million?
      • 8 million?
      • 600,000?
      • 15,000?
      • 429 million?
    • What will it take for us to have barbecues and baseball again this coming summer?
    • How much of the available vaccines have countries with 13% of the world’s population already “gobbled up”?
    • Of the 15,000 deaths in Canada from COVID-19, how many have been in retirement and nursing homes?
    • How will the health care system be challenged after the pandemic has subsided?
    • Will the vaccines wipe out COVID-19?
    • How many people die each year of AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis?
    • Does the Mr. Picard believe there will be more pandemics?
  • Bonus question: What is the name and author of the poem that includes the line, “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper?”
  • Finally, you may have found this exercise saddening. Do you think it’s better to know these facts and to be informed even if you feel sad about them, or would it be better to not know them and perhaps be more cheerful?

Consolidation of Learning

  • When they’ve finished their assignment, students will revisit their comments at the start of the lesson to see if they’ve changed their opinions.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria

Students can:

  • Describe briefly the current state, progress and challenges of the COVID-19 vaccination program in Canada;
  • Gain an appreciation for the vast numbers related to the disease;
  • Explain some reasons why the pandemic will likely not end abruptly.

Confirming Activities

  • Students bring their knowledge of the state of COVID-19 to their daily conversations.

Helpful Internet Searches

Activities to do together

  • When vaccines are available, take the shot together.
  • When able, explain to others the importance of getting vaccinated for COVID-19.