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COVID-19 Pandemic Resources

Remaining Healthy | Distancing | Masks | Vaccine | The Vulnerable
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COVID-19 Resources

The COVID-19 pandemic is a black swan event unlike anything before in modern times, both in its scope and in its impact upon our everyday lives.

COVID is Dangerous

With COVID, you have healthy people who a month ago were totally fine and now they are on their deathbed.
Dr. Omar Ahmad, Island Health
Let everyone know that this is real, my lungs are on fire. It's like there's bees stinging me. I can't breathe. Please let them know to wear a mask ... because I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.
COVID Patient

Weaknesses in Economy & Healthcare

It has highlighted serious weaknesses in our medical system and the “just-in-time” delivery of goods manufactured overseas.

Many lost jobs or income (some permanently) while governments racked up astronomical debts that could take generations to pay down because of rising inflation rates. An estimated one-in-seven small businesses will never recover.

Masks Recommended

Masks are recommended in public indoor settings, even if it's not required in your community or setting.

It's especially important to wear a mask if you're:
  • at risk of more severe disease or outcomes
  • around others who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes
  • visiting a group living setting
  • in a crowded or poorly ventilated setting
  • Public Health Canada

The current “recommended but not required” mask policies are ineffective.

Much like disobeying stop signs would result in significant chaos, this lack of a mask mandate is a failure of leadership.

Not All are Equal

Those that are immune-compromised face even greater risks:

[A]bout half of organ-transplant recipients produce no antibodies at all after two vaccine doses. Compared with the general vaccinated public, they are 82 times more likely to get breakthrough infections and 485 times more likely to be severely ill. Should they get infected, their risk of hospitalization is a coin flip. Their risk of death is one in 10.
The Atlantic
For now, immunocompromised people will have to rely on those who can confidently derive protection from vaccines, such as household members, health-care providers, and other close contacts. That puts some of the onus on the rest of the world: “Every vaccine that goes into an arm is protection for these people,” Longbrake, of Yale, said.
The Atlantic

The Unvaccinated Threaten All of Us

People are tired of the pandemic and our governments have catered to those that refused to be vaccinated or to wear a mask in demanding their “rights” to return to normal. We may be tired of the pandemic, but it is far from over.

We require people to be licensed to drive, we require people to wear seatbelts, we require people to stop at stop signs, and we do these things because these requirements keep us all safe. I'm having trouble understanding why mask requirements or other protections should be any different.
Jaigris Hodson

Getting vaccinated has been argued as being a personal choice, but evidence continues to grow that the unvaccinated contributed disproportionately to the numbers in hospitals. This preventable, yet disproportionate condition, threatened health care for the rest of us.

The unvaccinated also contributed disproportionately to infection rates among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people all because of fear-mongering by a few individuals over potential risks of being vaccinated.

Hope for Tomorrow

Shane Koyczan's poem, “A Tomorrow,” gives us hope for a post-pandemic future, showcasing the enduring importance of the arts to society:

 

News Articles

Yaneer Bar-Yam has been working on pandemic outbreaks for 15 years. His Twitter account looks at the success of proactive versus reactive responses.

My COVID Resources

Information British Columbia Based

The information on this page focuses on British Columbia (BC) information. You should seek guidance from official sources for your region.

COVID Antigen Rapid Tests

Rapid antigen test kits are available for pickup at pharmacies in BC (listed by regional health authority. You don't have to show ID and can have a friend or family member pick up a test kit for you if you can't.

Learning More

BC Provincial Restrictions

Be aware of province-wide restrictions on gatherings and travel designed to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. These can change quickly.

Unfortunately, governments just gave up.

The early termination of these mandates has resulted in many more infections and death. Proponents used the excuse that “everyone is going to get it” to end these mandates.

In real terms "living with the virus" means living with a normalization of death, reinfections, long COVID, disruption and exhausted health-care workers. People would never vote for a deteriorating quality of life and risk, but that's where public policy is now taking us.
Andrew Nikiforuk

About COVID Measures

COVID measures like wearing a mask indoors, vaccine passports, physical distancing, frequent hand-washing help to reduce the risk of transmission and to protect those that are more vulnerable.

The easing of indoor mask mandates and vaccine passports places the most vulnerable at risk because wearing a mask provides minimal protection when compared to an infected person also wearing a mask.

Whether you agreed with those mandates or not, ignoring them simply prolonged COVID-based restrictions.

Many of these restrictions have been eased or eliminated, decisions that are based more on economic and political concerns than on science. The governments appear to have listened to those blowing horns and engaging in unsafe protests rather than “following the science.”

There is only one way to stop more variants from emerging with properties even more extreme than Omicron, and that is to actively and persistently reduce the amount of virus in your community.
Yaneer Bar-Yam, pandemic expert
Data is emerging that, due to variant mutations, COVID-19 reinfections are happening, even in highly-vaccinated countries. For that reason, herd immunity is highly unlikely. Also, data is starting to show that recurrent infections could be increasing the chances of serious long-term effects, including in children. The need to avoid catching the virus has now been strengthened, for both people's health and workforce sustainability.
Protect Our Province BC

The more people refuse to socially-distance or wear masks, these conditions are bound to continue until either those opposing vaccination remain isolated or accept the need to be vaccinated.

Unfortunately, the vaccine-only policy is being eroded by the waning effectiveness of vaccines and decreased immunity with each COVID-19 variant and repeated re-infections.

Shorter Quarantine Questionable

The U.S. CDC reduced the quarantine from 10 days to five, a result of pressure from the U.S. airline industry after which many countries and health authorities (including those in BC) did likewise.

Given that Omicron cases can be infectious for up to 12 days and that air travel rapidly spreads variants, this change may be pandering to pandemic fatigue more than the science.

Omicron and Continuing Waves

The emergence of a fifth wave fueled by the Omicron variant was brought on by continued

The sixth wave followed the easing of restrictions based upon “pandemic fatigue.”

A seventh wave is growing during the summer of 2022, largely fed by the removal of any restrictions including the wearing of masks while indoors in public places. Too many people have interpreted the government's self-managed risk assessments as meaning the pandemic is over. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Omicron Later Variants Not Mild

While Omicron was relatively mild in December 2021, the later variants are just as transmissible yet more dangerous. The highly contagious Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are infecting people that have recently had other forms of COVID-19 and feature more upper respiratory, cold and flu-like symptoms. The loss of taste and smell have been reported with these variants.

COVID is no longer only a disease of the elderly, although that segment of the population was hit the hardest. Many under 35, including children, are getting sick and ending up in ICUs.

COVID-19 can have severe adverse affects including requiring critical care (ICU, ventilators), often resulting in death. Vulnerable populations are more at risk, even when fully vaccinated.

COVID is not a mild disease. The evidence is far from in about the effects Omicron can have on people. What might appear to be mild symptoms for one citizen could well become a hospital visit, intubation or death for someone else.
The Tyee

Even though symptoms are usually mild, that doesn't take into account Long COVID, a series of long-term side effects and disabilities that can last for years.

Overwhelmed by Numbers

The emergence of the fifth and sixth wave fueled by the Omicron variants resulted because of the failure of governments to act soon enough. Leaders haven't learned the lessons from previous waves and lack the political will to do what is right.

Any plans for “herd immunity” cannot be taken seriously when so many are being reinfected a second or third time.

Because the majority are vaccinated, the symptoms for most patients are less than earlier variants (at least until Omicron BA-4 and BA-5. These variants are more dangerous because of the sheer number of cases combined with the ease which this variant spreads.

What happens when an even deadlier variant emerges with Omicron's infection rate?

COVID a Long Term Problem

COVID-19 is likely to be with us for the long term. By using vaccinations along with interim masking and distancing restrictions, we hoped to be able to turn this from a pandemic into an endemic where COVID becomes more like the common cold — with us continually, but no longer life-threatening:

COVID is not going away. It's going to be endemic. That means the virus will keep circulating in parts of the global population for years, but it'll come down to relatively manageable levels, so it becomes more like the flu than a world-stopping disease.
Vox (2021)

Unfortunately, it appears that ship has sailed. There is increasing evidence that not only does immunity from prior COVID infections provide no herd immunity, but Omicron variants B4 and B5 aren't being recognized as a threat by our vaccines.

Long COVID has emerged as a long-term threat to not only our healthcare system, but also to our economy as a once-healthy workforce becomes incapacitated by debilitating chronic conditions.

Cancelled Surgeries

Hospitals ramped up capacity by cancelling elective surgeries (many of which have cause significant stress and loss of lifestyle to those patients affected) as well as the cancellation of regular clinics for cancer, transplant and other patients. This was preventable by universal vaccination.

The normal provision of care to the majority of citizens has been threatened disproportionately by a minority of unvaccinated patients who didn't want to suffer the consequences of their own poor choices.

Each wave has resulted in cancellations of many surgeries and other treatments.

While authorities call these “non-essential” surgeries, they will reduce both the quality and length of affected patients' lives.

With the return to in-office visits, many cases of advanced cancer and other time-sensitive diseases are being reported by doctors. These went undetected during lockdowns and the dependence upon virtual medicine in the last two years.

A Critical Nursing Shortage

Hospitals are again being overwhelmed with new COVID cases. Medical staff, already experiencing pre-pandemic shortages, are suffering burnout at alarming rates.

The attempt to control healthcare costs by refusing to increase compensation packages for doctors and nurses is not helping the situation.

In terms of ICU capacity, we count approximately half as many beds per 1,000 inhabitants as the United States and nearly a third less than Germany. Even prior to COVID, hallway health care was a regular state of being in many provinces.
National Post

The intensity of the treatment requirements under essentially battle conditions for such a long time is taking a toll on those we depend upon for medical care.

Family practices and walk-in clinics are closing because burned-out doctors are retiring or seeking other work. Nurses are burning out and leaving the profession. Neither can be replaced at current rates.

Nursing shortage is 'going to cost lives,' says ICU nurse on CBC video:

Nurses are breaking down, crying and quitting because of the intense pressure they face on the job due to a severe staffing shortage.
Toronto ICU nurse, Birgit Umaigba

Early in 2022 two Toronto hospitals called a Code Orange, a disaster caused by a critical nursing shortage. ICUs and other units are severely understaffed. The implications are frightening and not confined to Ontario.

Neither COVID nor the opioid crisis is the cause, but are symptoms of much larger issues.

These shortages were not caused by the pandemic, but are the result of political decisions to limit healthcare spending at any cost. The seeds of the current crisis go back more than 35 years:

In 1985 the provincial government had restricted new billing numbers in an effort to limit physicians moving to the province.

 

In the early 1990s the government imposed a hard cap on MSP funding. If spending appeared to be in danger of over-reaching the strictly enforced hard-capped budget, the fees paid to physicians would be proportionately reduced under the term pro-rationing. Eventually the physicians' response to this was to close their offices and operating rooms for enough days to balance the budget.
Chris Pengilly
Canada's political classes, which are largely rich and shielded from the pandemic, are likely to become more callous as the pandemic evolves.

 

The cruel truth we are now facing has been voiced by the editors of the British Medical Journal. The most important lessons from this pandemic, they wrote, “are less about the coronavirus itself but what it has revealed about the political systems that have responded to it.”
The Tyee

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Remaining Healthy

Provincial restrictions are designed to keep most people safe. These measures should be the minimum if you wish to remain healthy and not spread COVID.

Don't buy into fake information (especially on social media). Use legitimate sources.

That said, it is unfortunate that politics seems to have played a larger part in ending restrictions than science. The failure to provide current, accurate information by neighbourhood makes it impossible for us to effectively assess our personal risk.

Testing, other than for those over 70 in care homes, has become a personal task that is unreported. Wastewater tracking has become the only effective tool in recognizing pending waves of increased infection rates.

Keeping Safe

You have the right to protect your own health. Feel free to take any measures you need to protect yourself such as avoiding crowds, indoor shopping or anywhere you feel unsafe.

Minimize your risk by avoiding the 3 Cs:
  • closed spaces with poor ventilation
  • crowded places with many people nearby
  • close faces, such as close-range conversations
Government of Canada

There is much you can to protect yourself, starting with

  1. maintaining physical distancing when meeting with people from outside of your immediate household;
  2. wearing a suitable mask when you are inside public buildings or visiting friends; and
  3. getting vaccinated as soon as you are able.

The Consequences are Dire

While social media continues to host misinformation, including the notion that COVID is nothing more than a minor case of the flu, the reality is much worse:

If you're here [in the ICU], you're dying. Very few people survive from COVID once they're here.

 

We are seeing vaccinated patients that are coming to the ICU, but many of them are immunocompromised or have other comorbidities.

 

I'm just exhausted.
Paula Abramcyzk, ICU Nurse

Learning More

More medical resources….

Cleaning

While not as critical to safety as once thought, cleaning contributes to remaining safe, especially with high-touch surfaces in shared environments.

These are some reliable resources to help you with finding effective products and methods.

Cleaning Your Home & Office

Our homes have become our refuge, the one place (other than our vehicle) that we feel safe.

For many, it was also our new office as we learned to work from home and our kids began remote learning.

To keep us safe, we need to know what cleaning products can deal with COVID without damaging surfaces.

Cleaning Your Devices

While out and about you are handling your smartphone and possibly other electronics.

When you return home, you'll want to clean your devices to make them safe to use.

Cleaning Your Vehicle

Your car has probably become your safe haven when you're out.

Household Repairs

Having strangers into your home or office during the pandemic has its own risks, particularly if you are more vulnerable.

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Physical Distancing

Physical (or social) distancing helps to reduce the transmission of diseases like COVID-19.

Every time you breathe, laugh, sing, shout, cough or sneeze, you spread micro particles into the air. Think of how your breathe vapors travel when outside in cold weather.

The further apart you are (a minimum of six feet or two metres is recommended outside), the less likely it is that these aerosols are to reach you. Transmission is 18 times as likely indoors as outside.

Airborne Means More Risk

WHO was very slow in recognizing that COVID-19 can be transmitted airborne, not just as droplets (the basis for the two-metre distancing recommendation). This increase the need for quality masks and improved airflow within buildings. Rather than medical masks (or cloth masks) N-95 masks are required and good ventilation is important.

It took until 20 October 2020 for the agency to acknowledge that aerosols — tiny specks of fluid — can transmit the virus, but the WHO said this was a concern only in specific settings, such as indoor, crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces. Over the next six months, the agency gradually altered its advice to say that aerosols could carry the virus for more than a metre and remain in the air.
Nature

This recognition that COVID-19 can be airborne was significant because it changes the nature of prevention. Rather than medical masks (or cloth masks) N-95 masks are required and good ventilation is essential.

It also means that the end to mandates for indoor masking came too soon — a significant factor in the spread of the Omicron variants.

Avoid Crowds

Unfortunately, people have attended parties and other events where they are jammed together with strangers not taking precautions.

Some folks use any excuse to avoid social distancing or wearing a mask.

  • Those in crowded stadiums leave their masks off while sipping their beers then jump up to cheer loudly for their team.
  • Passengers on airplanes have their masks tucked below their chin while snacking the entire flight on a single bag of peanuts.

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Wear a Face Mask

The wearing of masks should always be mandatory while indoors except when you are only with members of your own household.

Masks Protect Others

Wearing a face mask, even a less advanced one, can help reduce both the risk and the severity of illness. Wearing one indoors in public settings minimizes the possibility of spreading COVID.

  • I wear a mask to protect you.
  • You wear a mask to protect me.

Choosing a Mask

The better the mask, the better your protection and the less likely you are to become infected or infect someone else. Consider fit, filtration and function.

Early on, single-layer masks may have helped, but these are no longer sufficient. Even surgical masks are inadequate according to this January 2022 Swiss study.

Unfortunately “well-fitting disposable surgical masks” do not exist out of the box, since there are large gaps on each side of the mask. Surgical masks require modifications to achieve a good fit. That's because they are made to stop liquid splashes during surgery, rather than made to stop airborne transmission.
Jeremy Howard
Testing of the effectiveness of protective strategies in view of the lower critical dose suggests that surgical masks are no longer sufficient in most public settings, while correctly fitted FFP2 respirators still provide sufficient protection, except in high aerosol producing situations such as singing or shouting.
Swiss Medical Weekly

Difficulty Breathing?

If you're finding it difficult to breathe, find a better-fitting mask.

Cloth Masks Compared to N95s

A simple cloth mask no longer has enough filtration efficiency to prevent the spread of the Omicron variation nor does a bandana.

You need to up your game. Wearing a cloth mask is not good enough any more. You want to have a higher grade filtration mask.
Dr. Lyne Filiatrault

An article in the Wall Street Journal contains a table showing the time to infection between a person that is infected and one that isn't depending upon which each is wearing.

It will take 25 hours for an infectious dose of Covid-19 to transmit between people wearing non-fit-tested N95 respirators. If they're using tightly sealed N95s — where only 1% of particles enter the facepiece — they will have 2,500 hours of protection.
WSJ

The table was posted on Twitter.

The table includes all variations, but the following shows the increased protection as the quality of mask improves assuming both have the same protection:

  • If neither is wearing anything: 15 minutes;
  • If both are wearing a cloth mask: 27 minutes;
  • If both are wearing a surgical mask: 1 hour; and
  • If both are wearing an N95 mask: 25 hours.

The results were published in Spring 2021 and the CDC expects the Omicron variant to spread more quickly.

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COVID-19 Vaccines

Much like wearing masks, getting vaccinated helps protect others as well as yourself.

Being double-vaccinated (or better) allows for more freedoms because you're less vulnerable and less likely to infect someone.

Vaccination needs to be supported by mask mandates and social distancing until COVID is no longer a threat.

Failures to enforce these mandates has resulted in a fourth wave fueled by the Delta variant followed closely by a fifth Omicron wave which spread even faster.

Vaccines Free for Everyone

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone living in BC who is eligible.

Vaccines, including those for children 5 to 11, are safe and effective against COVID-19.

When booking your vaccination in BC, only your name and BC personal health number (PHN) are required.

Vaccination Slows Spread; Improves Outcomes

Vaccination helps to slow the spread of COVID and reduces the severity of symptoms. You're less likely to be admitted to hospital or require ICU treatment. Your chances of dying from COVID are greatly reduced.

In B.C., the eight per cent of eligible yet unvaccinated individuals make up 54 per cent of COVID cases, 68 per cent of hospitalizations and 72 per cent of patients in intensive care.
The Tyee

Reduced Period You Spread COVID

Not only does vaccination help protect you from being infected, but it also reduces the period during which you can spread the disease as well as greatly reducing the chance that you'll need to have expensive life-saving treatment on a ventilator in the ICU.

While there's a small chance COVID-19 vaccinated people can still get sick and spread the virus (called breakthrough cases), research suggests they are less likely to transmit the virus than unvaccinated people.
USA Today
It is true that 67 percent of hospitalizations in Ontario are people who have been vaccinated — but those people constitute 90 percent of the population.

 

When you look at the latest ICU cases, 52 percent are unvaccinated patients, despite making up just 10 percent of the population.
John Ivison, National Post

Vaccine Refusal

Refusal to be vaccinated remains a significant barrier to ending the pandemic.

While vaccines are not the only tool needed to end the pandemic, they play a critical role.

Arguing that vaccinated people can spread COVID and get sick is like arguing that people wearing seatbelts still get into car accidents. In both cases, the outcome is much worse for those that ignore recommendations.

Get the Numbers Right

Although risk associated with avoiding vaccination during a virulent pandemic accrues chiefly to people who are unvaccinated, their choices affect risk of viral infection among those who are vaccinated in a manner that is disproportionate to the portion of unvaccinated people in the population.
CMAJ 2022 April 25;194:E573-80. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.212105

Misinterpretation of vaccine efficacy has led some to mistakenly assume vaccines make little difference:

Here is an example of misinfo/ misunderstanding about vaccine efficacy / effectiveness. This claim of 50/50 chance is a grave misreading. 55% vaccine effectiveness means it cuts risk by 55. So if instead of 2 in 100 with severe disease, it is lowered by half to ~ 1 in 100.
Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding on Twitter

The Majority of Severely Infected are Unvaccinated

Unvaccinated patients (representing about 10% of the population) form the vast majority of those that are severely infected, particularly those requiring treatment in an ICU.

[W]hile the non-vaccinated accounted for 21.9% of new infections, the group also accounted for 67.2% of hospitalizations.
Times Colonist
[U]nvaccinated people are seven times more likely than those with two doses of a vaccine to contract COVID-19. The unvaccinated are also 30 times more likely to be hospitalized and 50 times more likely to need critical care.
Times Colonist

Why Do People Hesitate?

People are either refusing to believe that COVID is dangerous or are waiting for proof that vaccines are 100% safe and effective.

We know more about the vaccines than the long term effects of COVID. mRNA vaccines are not new; the technology has existed for nearly 20 years.

If you land in the ICU, treatment is both brutal and uncertain.

No Basis for Myths on Social Media

They may also be listening to the myths spread on social media.

Health Feedback, a network of scientists fact-checking media coverage, proved (to my satisfaction at least) that there is no evidence the pandemic was planned; that COVID vaccines have proven their safety in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people; that previously infected people do not have permanent immunity; and that reports submitted to the VAERS database do not constitute evidence of vaccine-induced deaths.
John Ivison, National Post

Are You on the Fence?

Are you on the fence about getting vaccinated?

Then watch this Dr. Zubin Damania YouTube video discussing a 37 year old man that waited to vaccinated, then blamed himself when he realized he had infected his parents only days before they were to be vaccinated.

COVID-19 patients in the ICU universally regret not being vaccinated. ICU treatment is brutal and the death rate is high.

What About Medical Exemptions?

The fear of a deadly reaction to COVID-19 vaccines has fueled a lot of the resistance to being vaccinated.

Medical reasons for refusing to be vaccinated have proven short-lived. Serious reactions are very rare.

Everyone who is eligible can be safely vaccinated against COVID-19, although a very small number of people may need to delay vaccination if they have severe allergies to parts of the vaccine.

 

There are no medical exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccines. If you have concerns, discuss with your health care provider about how you can safely receive the vaccines.

 

If you have an allergy to an ingredient of one type of COVID-19 vaccine, you are still able to receive the other type….
BC Centre for Disease Control

Unfortunately, there continues to be both misinformation and questionable “medical” exemptions issued without any scientific basis (e.g., fear of needles).

Your “Rights” Have Limits

Refusal to be vaccinated is not guaranteed by our constitution because the public good overrides your rights.

[F]reedom of religion and conscience, freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association… and the other rights protected by the Charter, are not, however, absolute and are subject to reasonable limits, prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

 

These limits include proportionate, precautionary and evidence-based restrictions to prevent loss of life, serious illness and disruption of our health system and society.
BC Provincial Health Officer

You have no right to get drunk then drive a vehicle. Similarly, your refusal to get vaccinated must be suspended when it endangers others.

The Cost of Vaccine Refusal is High

The cost of refusing to be vaccinated is high.

  • The cost to treat COVID is much higher than most diseases.
  • Our health care system is over-stretched and our health care workers are burning out.
  • Treatment was delayed or cancelled for other patients, diminishing their chances for recovery.
  • The most vulnerable, even when fully vaccinated, have little protection.

If the health system collapses, a lot more people are likely to die.

I found it disturbing that BC moved unvaccinated COVID patients from areas of the province where the system was collapsing because of vaccination refusal to areas that had protected their hospital system by getting vaccinated.

Unvaccinated Outcomes Worse

Critical treatment is much more severe than vaccine opponents would have your believe. Outcomes for the unvaccinated are much worse, no matter how young or how healthy they are.

“No matter how young or how healthy…”

If you get sick with COVID and get really sick, it doesn't matter how young you are or how healthy you are. Once you end up [in the ICU], your chances of surviving are minimal.
Dr. Sunjay V. Sharma, Medical Director of Critical Care

Dr. Sharma discusses patients on critical life support.

Royal Jubilee ICU Conditions are Similar

Expensive to Treat

A COVID-19–related hospitalization with ICU admission (ventilator) is estimated to cost over $50,000:

According to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, the average cost for patients treated for the virus is more than $23,000, four times higher than for a flu patient. However, for a COVID patient needing intensive care, the average cost more than doubles to more than $50,000 — about six times the cost of treating someone who's had a heart attack.

 

The COVID-related healthcare spending surge in Canada could reach a record $308 billion in 2021, or roughly $8,019 per Canadian, according to CIHI projections.
Times Colonist

Long COVID Could Last Years

There is also growing evidence of long-term post-COVID symptoms (long COVID) that could last for years with both a personal cost in terms of quality of life and a financial cost for treatment.

Who Should Pay?

Those that choose to remain unvaccinated without a valid medical reason should expect to pay for alternatives like frequent testing rather than expecting the taxpayer or your employer to do so since the vaccine is free.

Singapore No Longer Paying for Unvaccinated COVID Treatments

Singapore's government has announced that it will no longer pay for COVID medical treatment for those that are unvaccinated by choice. Other countries are sure to follow if their health care system is threatened.

The Human Cost

This is not just about money. There is a human cost.

Many patients' surgeries have been cancelled to ensure that our hospital system isn't overwhelmed.

This has caused much stress and some will die while waiting for delayed surgeries and hospital treatments.

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Clinically Vulnerable Disproportionately Affected

Those that are immunosuppressed or with other existing health conditions have a greatly reduced quality of life.

People over 70 years of age, and people with chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems, are particularly vulnerable to severe illness and death from COVID-19, even if they are vaccinated.
BC Provincial Health Officer
[A] list of conditions that have been designated as risk conditions for COVID-19 by public health agencies: diabetes, heart disease, asthma or chronic obstructive airway disease, chronic kidney disease, disabling neurological disease, liver disease and immunodeficiency or immunosuppression.
Paul M. McKeigue et el

The clinically vulnerable are at much higher risk of poorer outcomes.

Reduced Quality of Life

Triple-vaccinated vulnerable patients are unable to enjoy many of the benefits available to most double-vaccinated people, including eating indoors in restaurants when restrictions are relaxed.

Visits to essential services like the grocery store, pharmacies and medical appointments are more dangerous because of those that refuse to wear masks or be vaccinated.

Listen to the changes to the quality of life for a transplant patient in Alberta:

Vulnerable people are depending upon everyone else that is eligible to get vaccinated in order to make it safe enough for them to rejoin many of the activities that became available (if you're fully vaccinated) as governments allowed gradual reopening of social activities.

Vaccination in Vulnerable Populations

Those with these conditions can and should definitely be vaccinated.

Protection for Immune Compromised Uncertain

Vaccination is even more important for those whose immune system is compromised: people with kidney failure, cancer patients on chemotherapy and organ transplant recipients.

Organ transplant patients take immunosuppressants (anti-rejection medications). As the name implies, these medications not only suppress rejection, but also reduce the ability to resist infection.

In addition, those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, COPD, etc. are going to experience more complicated recovery.

These patients, even when fully vaccinated, are likely to have worse outcomes should they become infected with COVID.

The coronavirus vaccines are highly effective in protecting against serious disease, but they are not a guarantee. This is especially the case for a subset of elderly and immunosuppressed people whose immune system did not mount a strong response to the shots.
New York Times

Unlike the measles vaccine, the mRNA vaccines are not “live” vaccines and are therefore safe for immune-compromised individuals. It is more dangerous to remain unprotected.

Inability to Create Antibodies

Immunosuppressed patients were not a part of the pre-release human trials for any of the COVID-19 vaccines. The research indicates that many such patients are unable to create the antibodies required to make the vaccine effective.

Among 436 people who'd had liver, heart, kidney, and other organ transplants, just 17% had detectable antibodies.
Science Magazine
In the study of more than 650 organ recipients -- who take drugs to suppress their immune system so they won't reject their new organs -- 46% had no antibody response after two doses of Pfizer or Moderna.
CNN

A Third Dose Shows Improvement

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that a third vaccine dose for solid organ transplant patients greatly increases the antibodies needed to fight off COVID infections.

The prevalence of anti–SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was 0%…before the first dose, 4%…before the second dose, 40%…before the third dose, and 68%… 4 weeks after the third dose.
The New England Journal of Medicine

Third dose greatly increases antibody production in solid organ transplant patients.

Even after this third dose, the protection (represented by the dots in chart B) is significantly less than the protection provided to the bulk of the population with just two doses.

Despite three doses of vaccine, some transplant recipients will continue to have a poor response, about 40% to 50% of the time compared to the general population and could remain unprotected. Because of this, it is critical that household contacts and healthcare workers be fully vaccinated and that extra cautions should still be taken.
Kidney Foundation

Resources for Renal Patients

The Kidney Foundation of Canada has provided resources for renal patients: COVID-19: How to protect yourself. These may be useful for others that are more vulnerable.

 

Heart Canadian Flag
Thanks to all our healthcare workers!

Use Official Sources

It is important that you remain informed about COVID-19.

BC COVID-19 Call Centre

Call 1-888-268-4319 for non-medical COVID info 7:30–8:00, 7 days a week.

Choose Your Sources Carefully

Don't rely on or spread misinformation.

Use only official sources for COVID-19 information.

Verify Information

Verify information before spreading it. See CheckThenShare.ca for details.

Help stop the spread of misinformation! Check first. Share after.

“SIFT” Your Information Sources

Stop,
Investigate the source,
Find better coverage, and
Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.
The SIFT methodology

Only Official Information

Look to authority sites, official information obtained directly from health and government sources.

Fake News & Social Media

There are a lot of fake news and misinformation designed to scare you, especially on social media.

Misinformation about COVID-19 is having devastating effects on vaccination rates.

There is strong evidence that this was intentional and, at least in several instances, promoted by a marketing company registered in both the UK and Russia.

One example from COVID Georgia, Fact check: Covid as a leading cause of death in children shows how the underlying data can be verified (or, in this case, disputed).

Social Media Unreliable

Social media has been used to propagate false information and anti-vax propaganda.

One big problem was that Facebook users were brigading any content addressing vaccination with anti-vax comments.

 

[C]omments on vaccine-related content were flooded with anti-vax propaganda, pseudo-scientific claims, and other false information and lies about the virus and the vaccines.
Gizmodo
The most viewed link for Americans on Facebook in the first three months of 2021 was to a news story about a doctor who died after getting a COVID vaccine.

 

The story turned out to be questionable and may have given a misleading impression.
Infopackets
We live in a conspiratorial age of meme medicine — an era when lots of people would rather take untested snake oil hawked by politicians, pundits and B-list celebrities than vaccines whose effectiveness and safety have been proved in clinical studies and that have been approved by the F.D.A.
New York Times

Dr. Christiane Northrup went viral with some false claims about the mRNA COVID vaccines. What's really going on.

Frauds and Scams

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Security & Privacy

The pandemic has changed the future of cybersecurity.

New opportunities for hackers when we increased our online presence. They used our fears to line their pockets at our expense.

Security threats in the second quarter of 2020 continue to target remote workers, but attackers aren't relying on COVID-19-themed phishing: They're going straight for vulnerable home networks where workers are conducting business.
TechRepublic

Phishing Attacks Increased

Phishing attacks are on the increase.

There are a few basic psychological tricks that phishing attacks and phone scams attempt to use against us — and the pandemic has provided the perfect environment for them.
BBC Future

Most phishing attempts cite some “authority” to tempt you to ignore common sense and follow unsafe instructions.

Example Phishing Email

An example from Ars Technica:

“COVID-19” phishing email

Clicking on the “download” button ultimately redirected to one of several Bitbucket pages that offers a file that installs malware.

Be Cyber-aware

Be wary of phishing emails, fake links and email attachments in unexpected messages, including delivery notices, voice mail notices, etc.

Be sure to get your information directly from official sources.

Learning More

Learn more about phishing and email scams….

Privacy in a Pandemic

COVID-19 has affected our privacy.

COVID Tracking

One significant privacy concern is the issue of COVID tracking.

How do you provide realtime tracking of infections combined with the ability to monitor who they've come into contact with and still maintain privacy?

Using Cellphone Data

The most common solutions so far have been apps installed onto cellphones that continuously monitor who is nearby.

The Public Health Agency of Canada accessed location data from 33 million mobile devices to monitor people's movement during lockdown, the agency revealed this week.
National Post

Cellphones reveal a great deal of personal information, even if there is no COVID tracking app installed. Social media apps are among the worst for data collection.

Location information can reveal some of the most intimate details of a person's life — whether you've visited a psychiatrist, whether you went to an A.A. meeting, who you might date.
Senator Ron Wyden

9-11 Fears Re-ignited

The massive growth of privacy-invading technologies in the last decade are being re-ignited.

Proponents of 24-7 universal surveillance are hard at work.

The pandemic has unfortunately provided cover for companies to push out to what are effectively mass-surveillance infrastructures, under the guise of public health.
Ella Jakubowska, European Digital Rights

When Will it End?

There are many variations of COVID-tracking applications.

Few of these have limits on the lifespan of the collected information or its uses.

At the very least, there needs to be a sunset clause that ends tracking when the pandemic ends.

Trust Needs to Be Earned

There is a great deal of trust required here — something that neither modern governments nor corporations deserve given their rampant surveillance and privacy abuses.

Marketing and Surveillance

The prospect of even more detailed information on the bulk of the population would be extremely valuable from both a marketing and a police surveillance perspective.

Although poorly understood at the time, one of the biggest long-term impacts of the September 11 attacks was expanded surveillance in the United States and other democracies, by both public and private sectors.

 

Similarly, one of COVID-19s most important long-term impacts will be the reshaping of digital surveillance across the globe, prompted by the public health need to more closely monitor citizens.

 

The stakes are high. If democracies fail to turn the future of global surveillance in their favor, digital authoritarian competitors stand ready to offer their own model to the world.
Nicholas Wright

Privacy Resources

Learn more about privacy….

Related Resources

Related resources on this site:

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RussHarvey.bc.ca/resources/pandemic.html
Updated: July 27, 2022