Most people now assume COVID is over. Nothing could be further from the truth. COVID is very much a threat to everyone's long-term health, to our economy and to our way of life. Not collecting accurate data provides for “plausible deniability.”
@MoriartyLab revised their November 18–December 1 projections on November 26th because of increasing numbers of infections:
We've revised the forecast, based on this week's data.
- 1 in 14: AB, MB
- 1 in 15: QC, SK
- 1 in 18: CAN, North, ON
- 1 in 20: NB
- 1 in 22: NL
- 1 in 23: BC
- 1 in 27: PEI
- 1 in 37: NS
- — @MoriartyLab
We don't have to be in this situation.
People don't know or understand how easy it is to get infected. They don't know or understand that getting regular boosters provides important protection against all serious outcomes.
A lot of this is actually preventable.
Fewer than 6% of people in Canada have the recent XBB shot.
Excess mortality is climbing faster than 2022, which is NOT good.
The shot protects against hospitalization, death and long COVID.
Get it NOW. Do NOT wait for Novavax unless you have to. Infections are too high.
The following graphics have not been revised:
COVID-19 Risk Index for exposure for various activities.
To increase protections in health-care facilities in the province, medical mask wearing will be required by all health-care workers, volunteers, contractors and visitors in areas where patients/clients/residents receive care effective Oct. 3, 2023.
Visitors to long-term care facilities will wear a medical mask when moving through and/or participating in indoor events, gatherings and activities with others in common areas of the care home/residence.
— Island Health
Accurate or ANY COVID-19 information is becoming difficult or impossible to obtain. Only Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba are still reporting weekly.
The four of us spent the last three years immersed in collecting and reporting data on Covid-19 from every corner of the world, building one of the most trusted sources of information on cases and deaths available anywhere. But we stopped in March, not because the pandemic is over (it isn't), but because much of the vital public health information we need is no longer available.
— Beth Blauer et el
PCR testing is limited to healthcare settings where patients are exhibiting symptoms which is why the modeling is now done based upon wastewater.
People were eager to quit wearing masks and to return to enjoying events, travel, theatre, sports and much more. This is nothing but wishful thinking empowered by governments more concerned with votes and corporations more concerned with profits than either are with people.
While our governments claim that COVID is over, it continues to be an extremely dangerous disease. “Long COVID” may result in as much as 20% of our work force being permanently disabled.
Recent studies on long COVID and more show why, beyond vaccines, masks and air filters remain vital.
The pandemic may no longer be a major conflagration but it still kills about 140 Canadians a week while morphing into a steady viral blaze sustained by dirty air, waning immunity and overt political indifference.
“We are not dealing with Omicron-like waves but a viral soup,” Gregory told The Tyee. “We are seeing a near-constant high level of hospitalizations that falls just below overwhelming them but is nonetheless unsustainable. More health-care workers are getting sick and that just adds to the strain on the whole system.”
— The Tyee 10 Nov 2023
For the first time in decades, life expectancy in the most developed countries has been reduced. Those that are vulnerable will continue to suffer the greatest inconvenience and much higher levels of hospitalization and death.
COVID deaths continue to far outpace deaths from the flu and a disproportionate number of the dying are immunocompromised.
The assumption that “it is just like the flu” fails to take into account that COVID is now the number two cause of hospitalization (exceeded only by childbirth) with extremely high death rates.
COVID-19 became the 2nd most common reason for hospitalization in 2021–2022, up from 7th the previous year. This represents a greater than 60% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The graph below clearly indicates that COVID is far more serious for children than the flu:
Nor have adults fared any better:
Over the past 12 years, the flu's estimated annual death toll has been as low as 12,000, but never higher than 61,000 — just an eighth of COVID's death toll in the first year of the pandemic.
Since the earliest days of the pandemic, weekly COVID deaths have been at least 15 times that of weekly flu deaths — and sometimes as much as 811 times.
One misconception is that COVID is the same today as it was in 2020. Not only have there been numerous variations, but also variations within the variations. We're now dealing with “a viral soup.”
As variants continue to evolve, it becomes more and more likely that protection from vaccines will fail at some point. Unlike the flu vaccine, protection seems to last no more than 6 months.
We do know that protection against infection wanes, and people can get it multiple times. And on average, people are getting it much more frequently than we get flu.
— Caroline Colijn, a Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health at Simon Fraser University
Mike Honey's visualization tool defaults to Australia but provides the ability to generate data for a specific country or province or worldwide. The COVID-19 Genomic Sequencing analysis for British Columbia September 3–October 16, 2023 is shown below:
While Omicron was characterized as “mild” (many people mistakenly ascribe current symptoms as “only a cold”), newer, more virulent variations could appear at any time that spread much easier yet are more deadly.
Anyone who gets infected with corona more often runs the risk of developing an incurable immune deficiency. According to Health Minister Lauterbach, this is indicated by various studies that are currently being further researched. As a result, the risk of chronic diseases such as dementia would increase.
— Archyde (January 21, 2023)
While elites take every COVID precaution possible when they meet with each other at the World Economic Forum, they go home and tell us that COVID is no longer a threat, and the pandemic is over. Actions speak louder than words.
— Dr. Lucky Tran
The January 2023 World Economic Forum at Davos required everyone to be tested before entering and provided state-of-the-art ventilation.
Participants are required to get tested in one of the Forum testing centres after arriving in Davos and picking up their badge. Conducting a test will keep the badge active and grant the access to the Annual Meeting's venues. Failing to conduct an onsite test or a positive test result will lead to the badge being deactivated.
Additional state-of-the-art ventilation systems have been installed in areas with restricted air circulation.
— WEF 2023 Health & Safety Measures
Every time you breathe, laugh, sing, shout, cough or sneeze, you spread micro particles (aerosols) into the air. Think of how your breathe vapors travel when outside in cold weather or how cigarette smoke can hang in the air.
Just breathing naturally, people can emit dozens of copies of viral RNA every minute.
[T]he team estimates that a high shedder could potentially exhale enough virus to infect someone in a closed space in about 20 seconds, making even elevator rides risky.
— Science News
How COVID-19 spreads
Long COVID is 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 lasting for a year or more.
COVID can cause organ damage — particularly affecting the heart, kidneys, skin. Plus, there's risk of brain and immune damage, along with increased risks for cancer and autoimmune disease.
And, while no one knows yet how long that damage could persist, a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine says 59 per cent of Long COVID patients had organ damage a year later.
— Urban Affairs
Evidence is growing that breakthrough infections neutralize immunity and damage our T-cells which have a significant role in protecting us from COVID and other diseases.
COVID-19 causes turnover and aging of the immune cells responsible for responding to both COVID-19 and other pathogens.
We know that reinfections occur, and they seem to be increasing. With our present high levels of transmission, many individuals will likely be experiencing two or more infections per year going forward. The immune system is damaged for more than half a year after infection….
— World Health Network
Long COVID includes the early onset of diseases such as heart disease and heart attacks and presents with symptoms like neurological issues, blood clots, increased rare Cancers and chronic fatigue.
COVID is a unique virus because it can spread far and wide in a patient's body. A December 2022 study, published in the journal Nature, autopsied 44 people who died of COVID and found that the virus could spread throughout the body and persist, in one case as long as 230 days after symptoms started. “We know that there are dozens of symptoms across multiple organ systems,” said McCorkell. “That makes it harder for a primary care physician to connect the dots and associate it with COVID.”
There is increasing evidence that a link exists between COVID-19 and heart health. The biggest increase (30%) was in those between 25 and 40 years old, spiking after each COVID wave. COVID itself is 11 times as likely to cause myocarditis than the vaccine according to Dr. John Torres.
New data appears to show link between COVID and heart disease
More than 200 symptoms have been identified with impacts on multiple organ systems. At least 65 million individuals worldwide are estimated to have long COVID, with cases increasing daily.
— Davis et al 2023 Nature Reviews Microbiology
The Doctor's checklist for treating long COVID patients provides an excellent summary with links to supporting research papers that are much more scientific in their language.
While there is no known way to prevent long COVID, it appears that getting vaccinated can reduce the risk. Other forms of protection, like masks and improving indoor ventilation, significantly better your odds of remaining healthy.
You can't [prevent long COVID], but one of the best ways to reduce your risk is to get vaccinated. Getting at least one dose of a COVID vaccine before you test positive for COVID lowers your risk of long COVID by about 35% according to a 2022 study published in Antimicrobial Stewardship & Healthcare Epidemiology. Unvaccinated people who recovered from COVID, and then got a vaccine, lowered their own long COVID risk by 27%.
Unfortunately, it is up to the individual to take responsibility for their safety by protecting themselves from the real risks as separate from fantasy fears propagated by misinformation.
Because COVID is spread by aerosols, high quality N95 masks and improved airflow within buildings are necessary to stem the spread of COVID.
After pandemic mandates ended, we found out that we were on our own and had to assess our own tolerance for risk.
The failure to provide current, accurate information segregated by neighbourhood made it impossible for us to accurately assess our personal risk. Wastewater tracking have become our only tools in recognizing pending waves and increased infection rates.
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 else you feel unsafe.
One resource that may help you assess risk is the Canadian COVID-19 Hazard Index.
Some settings will continue to be higher risk, including crowded and poorly ventilated public spaces. The risk is higher if activities like singing or shouting, or ones that make people breathe heavily, are occurring.
— Government of Canada
Transmission is 18 times as likely indoors as outside. If you choose to meet others inside, sit further apart from people when conversing. Opening windows and adding high quality air treatment systems can help reduce your risk.
While vaccination is not the panacea that was promised originally, this is largely a result of reduced protection from new COVID variants, waning adherence to getting boosters and the resumption of large public gatherings and international travel.
One of the constant messages heard from public health officials is that you are safe outdoors.
The point source outbreak of COVID-19 in Qingkou night market contained a cluster of 131 secondary cases. In a less-enclosed place like the Qingkou night market, aerosols with BA.5.2 strain released by patients could suspend in ambient air up to 1 h 39 min and still be contagious.
— Frontiers in Public Health (July 4, 2023)
Physical (or “social”) distancing helps to reduce the transmission of diseases like COVID-19, although not as much as once thought. The recommended six feet/two metres was based upon the droplets theory.
We now know that COVID is spread via aerosols (think of how your breathe vapors travel when outside in cold weather). The further apart you are, the less likely it is that these aerosols are to reach you.
Unfortunately, people now attend parties and other events where they are jammed together with strangers, none of which are taking any precautions.
There is plenty of evidence that masks in public places provide protection against the spread of COVID-19 the flu and other respiratory illnesses.
It matters. Even if you are the only one. We see you. You are protecting yourself from COVID and long COVID, which results from 1 in 5 infections. You are protecting your grandmother, your grandfather, your friend with diabetes, that pregnant lady on the bus, the immunocompromised person you haven't met yet.
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.
The better the mask, the better your protection and the less likely you are to become infected or infect someone else.
The most effective protection looks like a mask, but is called a respirator:
Respirator masks are relatively expensive — typically a few dollars each…. They can be safely reused, with good retention of their filtration. New designs are comfortable and fit most faces.
— The Conversation
Consider fit, filtration and function.
Single-layer masks may work for droplets, but are insufficient to protect against infection from a disease spread by aerosols. Even surgical masks are inadequate according to a 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
If you're finding it difficult to breathe, find a better-fitting mask. I've found N95s better than most cloth masks, not only for their protection but also for the ability to breathe easier.
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.
Much like wearing masks, getting vaccinated helps protect others as well as yourself. Being fully vaccinated allows for more freedoms because you're less vulnerable and less likely to infect someone.
However, vaccination on its own is not sufficient to end COVID-19. Unlike the flu vaccine, COVID vaccines are only effective for about 6 months. Vaccination needs to be supported by mask mandates and social distancing until COVID is no longer a threat.
When booking your vaccination in BC, only your name and BC personal health number (PHN) are required.
Public health officials recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine at least six months from a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose or known infection.
— Times Colonist
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.
A study conducted using data from CNISP determined that unvaccinated patients were 15 times as likely to die as vaccinated patients. Those refusing vaccines have labelled their stance as “freedom” but that choice affects others, much like second-hand smoke affected nonsmokers. The unvaccinated disproportionately require hospitalization.
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
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. Let's all get immunized without delay.
Learn more about remaining safe:
[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
It's in the high-risk population where society's attention and resources must be focused — where the disease toll is concentrated and where protection from exposure through both public policy and personal action will have by far the greatest impact. These are the people who must not be left behind as the nation adapts to an indefinite endemic future.
The excuse that “everyone is going to get it” ignores the fact that COVID is not a mild disease, especially for the immunocompromised and other vulnerable populations.
People age 65 and older represent 17 percent of the population but are now responsible for 92% of national COVID-19 deaths. Those aged 75 and over are 6.8% of the population and suffer 68% of COVID-19 deaths.
The 1.15 million nursing home residents face by far the highest risk. They have experienced 15% of the 1.1 million national deaths to date, and comprise only 0.35% of the population.
Those folks continue to restrict their activities.
It's just easiest to discard folks who don't have the immunity that allows you to have the risk model where you're like, “Hey I can afford an infection or two.”
We disappear from our social circles, you don't really think of us. So it's easier to accept policy decisions that are like, “Let these people handle it themselves.”
— Ti Young
Even triple-vaccinated vulnerable patients have been unable to enjoy many of the benefits available to most double-vaccinated people, including eating indoors in restaurants and other social activities. Visits to essential services like the grocery store, pharmacies and medical appointments are more dangerous.
The Covid costs for older people extend beyond the most extreme dangers and include limited activities, diminished lives and continuing isolation and its associated risks.
Remember the “senior hours” some supermarkets instituted early in the pandemic, allowing older customers to shop with smaller crowds and less exposure?
Now, “public spaces are not accessible to people concerned about infections,” Dr. Raifman said.
— New York Times
A transplant patient in Alberta talks about the reductions to their quality of life:
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 to the less vulnerable.
Those with health conditions can and should definitely be vaccinated.
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 impair the ability to resist infection.
In addition, those with underlying conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and COPD 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.
— The New York Times
The mRNA vaccines are safe for immune-compromised individuals. It is more dangerous to remain unprotected.
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.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed 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
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.
Even for young and healthy individuals, the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines wanes within six months.
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
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.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a black swan event unlike anything before in modern times, both in its scope and in its impact upon our everyday lives.
A pandemic…is an epidemic of an infectious disease that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple continents or worldwide, affecting a substantial number of individuals.
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, Nov. 8, 2021
The risks of dying decreased significantly for those that were vaccinated and without pre-existing health conditions when the milder, though highly-contagious, Omicron variety showed up.
From the very beginning, the misconception that infection involved droplets had us busy washing our hands, wiping surfaces and remaining two metres apart.
Unlike the rapid development of vaccines, the belief that droplets spread COVID remained after four years so that hospitals still required you to wear a surgical mask.
While cloth or medical-grade masks are effective in preventing the spread of droplets, they provide insufficient protection against aerosols.
Our focus over the last half-century has been on improving energy conservation. This resulted in buildings that are well-sealed against outdoor air. Sealed buildings have been an ideal environment for the spread of COVID.
Governments failed to provide for improved ventilation in schools when it became clear to most scientists that COVID was spread by aerosols, not droplets.
Unfortunately, the prescription to cleaner air has been overshadowed by too much faith in drugs and the rapid development of vaccines (a historical first) as the true way out of the pandemic.
There is no doubt that vaccines, particularly boosters, have dramatically lowered the death toll, but they have not stopped viral transmission, viral evolution, waning immunity or vaccine hesitancy.
— The Tyee
Combined with the widespread insistence that COVID is spread by droplets is the fact that engineers have not been consulted.
The thing about cleaner indoor air is that it works on any variant and any airborne disease; it helps against pollution; it helps against all kinds of things. And it doesn't take away anyone's freedoms.
— Christina Page
The end to mandates for indoor masking in BC healthcare & LTC facilities on April 6, 2023 came too soon — a significant factor in the increased spread of the Omicron variants.
Once mandates ended, the “recommended but not required” was ineffective. There is a reason that laws about stopping for traffic lights and stop signs are strictly enforced rather than “recommended.”
The wearing of masks should always be mandatory while indoors in smaller public spaces.
Mask mandates were removed altogether based upon the premise that staff were getting infected in the community (it likely they were NOT masking where not required).
For nearly two years WHO, governments and many experts refused to recognize evidence that pointed to aerosol transmission based on a series of problematic assumptions about how respiratory viruses spread.
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.
COVID-19 has highlighted serious weaknesses in our medical system.
Patients were lining the corridors of hospitals even before the pandemic due to the lack of beds.
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 [emphasis mine]
Without mask mandates, the “recommended but not required” is not going to be effective.
There is a reason that laws about stopping for traffic lights and stop signs are strictly enforced rather than merely “recommended.”
The wearing of masks should always be mandatory inside hospitals, clinics and long term care centres and recommended in smaller public spaces.
Mask mandates in health-care settings have been reinstated in BC as of October 3, 2023.
The cost of ignoring protections is high.
Amidst chronic staffing shortages, hospital inpatient units across Canada have seen a rise in the rate of unintentional harm to patients for the third year in a row, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).
At the same time, nurses and health care professionals in these units logged 14 million hours of overtime in 2021–2022 — a 50% increase from the previous year.
— Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (emphasis mine)
We are still not prepared for a huge COVID wave.
We're seeing these conditions regularly in British Columbia and elsewhere even when the infection rates are low. Hospital ERs are turning people away or have extremely long waits (to the point where people are leaving the ER untreated).
If the health system collapses, a lot more people are likely to die. Imagine being in a serious car accident and being told to go home because the hospitals are full.
Hospitals are provided with a fixed budget rather than a fee per patient or service. In this scenario, paying overtime to run operating rooms or expensive equipment like MRIs and bone density machines is shelved. Major equipment is only acquired by fundraising instead of being included in budgets.
This results in patients waiting approximately three years for surgeries and treatments that could be provided much earlier if a different financial model was used.
The experience for our elected officials and hospital governing bodies is much different. Patients cannot pay for treatment in their own province (but may do so in another in they can afford it).
Fixing the system will take years if not decades as well as a restructuring of the health system. In the meantime, too many patients die awaiting treatment in a system better prepared to offer MAID than timely treatment.
The following video looks at these issues:
Start the above video at the 1539 mark to learn how Sweden fixed the issue of delays by forcing government-funded, government-run hospitals to compete against government-funded, privately-run hospitals. If patients weren't provided treatment within 90 days at the government-run hospitals, they were given the option to seek treatment anywhere they chose — also at government expense.
The “just-in-time” delivery of goods manufactured overseas proved to be vulnerable. Store shelves were empty and there were critical industry-wide shortages caused by increased demand at a time when manufacturing in China was delayed by lockdowns.
Shipping containers were not being returned to Asia. Ships were waiting offshore for weeks instead of a day or two and shore crew sizes were thinned by COVID. Delays caused by returning shipping containers was deemed excessive.
The pandemic has been extremely profitable for big business and the very wealthy. Not so for smaller companies and businesses. While Costco and Walmart were able to remain open simply because they had a pharmacy, many smaller businesses were shuttered.
An estimated one-in-seven small businesses will never recover.
The opioid crisis exploded the number of drug users outside their doors. Combined with a catch-and-release policy, shoplifting reached extreme levels as offenders often committed the same crime after being released before the police finished the paperwork.
Allowing drug consumption and the shoplifting and other crimes that follow it have made it even harder for even medium-sized businesses.
Incomes have not kept up with inflation, primarily the cost of food and housing but also taxes. Worker shortages have become common and is speeding up the move to self-service checkouts.
The levels of immigration have strained our social services, medical system and housing supply. Unaffordable interest rates may be the final straw.
There was a massive failure at all levels of government to protect the vulnerable (children, the elderly and those with health issues) or stop the spread of COVID-19.
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 2022
The failure to protect workers has led to staff shortages, ferry and airline cancellations as well as the too frequent closing of ERs and long waits for ambulances. Too many employees lack any sick days. For the most vulnerable, missing work means lost wages.
Many lost jobs or income (some permanently) while governments racked up astronomical debts that could take generations to pay down due to rising inflation rates.
Last year, the government spent $24.5 billion servicing the debt; Desjardins forecasts debt charges of $49.8 billion next year.
— National Post (Oct. 31, 2022)
Uncertainty, supply chain issues and workplace absences are continuing to have a damaging effect on the economy while big business pushes for an end to mandated isolation periods or any restrictions at all.
Unfortunately, the cost of an “economy-first” measurement of success has meant that COVID was allowed to burn out of control. Schools were left open so parents could work and quarantine times were lowered then eliminated altogether.
Schools are a critical part of any society in training the next generation, providing important socialization, and enabling the economy to function. They are also recognized drivers of infectious disease spread. We provide evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted in schools, and that this affects not only those in schools, but also the communities inextricably linked with them.
— Laura F White, Eleanor J. Murray and Arijit Chakravarty
Several generations of provincial governments cut health care costs by reducing the number of doctors, nurses and hospital beds. As well, the federal government failed to meet its funding obligations.
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
We see the legacy of this today, where physicians find the cost of maintaining an office and serving patient is no longer financially viable.
Hopefully, the changes announced at the end of October 2022 will encourage more doctors to find it financially viable to remain in practice while we ramp up our medical schools' output of doctors and nurses.
What saved Canada was a largely willing and conforming populace that withstood stringent public health measures and achieved among the world's highest levels of vaccination coverage.
In other words, Canadians delivered on the pandemic response while its governments faltered.
— National Post
Misinformation and unsafe protests were allowed to go unchallenged and eventually governments caved to selfish demands.
This “protest against freedom to choose” didn't stop antivaxxers from adding to the overburdened hospitals when they were infected, often leading to cancellation of surgeries and delayed treatment for other patients.
Too many governments have failed to adhere to basic norms of institutional rationality and transparency, too many people — often influenced by misinformation — have disrespected and protested against basic public-health precautions, and the world's major powers have failed to collaborate to control the pandemic.
— The Lancet
Assumptions were made about the inevitability of everyone getting infected and the ability of vaccination to protect everyone.
Governments everywhere dropped mandates, essentially throwing children, the elderly and those with health issues under the bus.
Children aged 10–19y played the greatest relative role in propagating Omicron epidemics, particularly when schools were open, followed by children aged 0–9y and adults aged 20–29y, as well as adults aged 30–49y.
Persons aged over 50y played a more limited role in propagating Omicron infection in the community.
Additional efforts are needed to increase vaccination coverage in children aged 10–19y, as well as younger children and young adults to mitigate Omicron epidemics in the community.
Assumptions about low transmission rates for schools have been proven false in several studies.
We have learned that many mitigation measures are not effective and removing them will make it easier to focus on effective measures. This includes temperature checks, plexiglass barriers, and excessive surface cleaning. These mitigation measures become “hygiene theater” in that they provide false reassurance that interventions are in place while also being ineffective at preventing spread and contributing to “pandemic fatigue.” — declining trust in and energy for pandemic mitigations.
— Laura F White, Eleanor J. Murray and Arijit Chakravarty
A pilot project in the Omaha Public School district detected new SARS-CoV-2 infections which wouldn't have been detected otherwise, indicating that infection and case rates in schools are much higher that what's being reported through routine self-initiated tests and reporting.
Infection rates detected by the OPS PROTECTS program, in a partnership with UNMC, were two-and-a-half times higher for staff and nearly six times higher for students than what was routinely observed. Additionally, the project found almost 10 times the cases per population than what was observed through community testing in the surrounding county.
— University of Nebraska Medical Center
[W]hat I wanted to ask is, what are we currently doing to protect our children from a CDC level 3 biohazard while we try to figure out how bad the organ damage is going to be, and what their future health going into adulthood is going to look like?
And the answer I've been able to come up with so far, is “actually very little.”
— Dr. Rae Duncan
Because of gaslighting the public, withholding vital information and ending extensive testing, “personal risk assessments” are impossible.
The failure to mask in classrooms was a significant factor in the high incidence of respiratory illness in children in the fall of 2022.
Masks have played a key role in keeping us all safe throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, three years into the pandemic, we still see conflicting stories in the news about masks on a daily basis.
Out of the 78 papers analyzed in the review, only two actually studied masking during the Covid-19 pandemic. And both of those found that masks did protect wearers from Covid-19.
The overselling of the Cochrane study is a classic example of cherry-picking, where biased groups highlight a subset of data that support their position, while ignoring the larger pool of evidence that disagrees with them.
— The Guardian
Parents weren't being told of outbreaks in their child's school and governments continued to claim that children were safe (and not a source of transmission). Perhaps the need to avoid a absentee workforce was deemed a more pressing issue.
While official sources should provide the most accurate information, our leaders and health authorities have not always been honest with us. “Optics” have overshadowed good leadership.
B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, her medical health officers, Minister of Health Adrian Dix, and his health ministry have never warned you about post Covid health impacts beyond an acute infection.
They've never told you about the chronic debilitating medical condition that can affect every organ in the body, including your heart, lungs, pancreas, kidneys, brain, gut, blood vessels and more.
But they've all known about these harms for three years. They've known that no one in our population is without risk. They've known all this and yet have continued to downplay the seriousness of COVID-19.
— Protect Our Province BC, April 2023
Meanwhile, the ultra-rich and heads of state demand that visitors test for COVID as well as wear masks in their presence. Missing masks in photo ops lend credibility to the line that “COVID is over.”
It is unfortunate that politics seems to have played a larger part in decisions than science.
Unfortunately, western political leaders and some public health officials have decided to indulge the worst kind of individualist impulse: the desire to choose your own reality, including the fantasy that the pandemic is over.
[P]ublic health policy has effectively been rewritten in light of the desires, demands and delusions of anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 denialists.
— The Conversation
Physical distancing and cloth masks were both based upon the assumption that transmission was caused by droplets rather than aerosols.
The theory was that droplets would get caught even in a cloth mask and certainly in a medical-grade mask and that by remaining six feet apart the droplets were mostly going to fall before reaching you.
Patients in hospitals without COVID were separated from infected patients only by a curtain — probably enough protection if the droplets theory was true. However, because COVID is airborne, think of how little protection that curtain would provide from cigarette smoke originating in the next bed.
Governments refused to treat COVID-19 as an airborne illness, largely because COVID-19 didn't work like prior respiratory viruses, something policy-makers were slow to accept.
Governments continued to hold onto the droplets theory (and its protection protocols) in spite of early evidence that COVID is airborne.
Early in the pandemic, the World Health Organization stated that SARS-CoV-2 was not transmitted through the air. That mistake and the prolonged process of correcting it sowed confusion and raises questions about what will happen in the next pandemic.
Canada has followed a vaccine-only policy since Omicron appeared. While uptake was strong in the beginning, many people no longer get regular boosters.
Covid spreads in the air like smoke. At least half of Covid transmission happens before people develop symptoms — or even if they never develop symptoms — so people frequently spread the virus without knowing it. That's why layered protection — the combination of masks, tests and ventilation — is so important.
— Theodore Pak, Lara Jirmanus and Andrew Wang
Unfortunately the messaging that was so ubiquitous early in the vaccine campaign was that a vaccine would be two doses. And in truth, we know from decades of vaccinology that two doses is rarely sufficient to give long lasting, what we call immune memory, really long lasting responses.
— Dawn Bowdish, professor at McMaster University
Healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), also known as nosocomial infections, are infectious diseases acquired in health care facilities such as hospitals.
Hospitals didn't test for COVID-19 and placed infected patients alongside uninfected patients, separated only by a cloth curtain — ineffective protection against aerosols.
When people go to the hospital, they expect to get better, not worse. Abandonment of mask mandates has unsurprisingly led to a rise in hospital-acquired infections, and outbreaks.
About one in five to ten people who catch COVID-19 in a hospital after having come there for some completely other reason, end up dying. The normal rate of deaths is only two or three percent.
This is fully preventable, and entirely attributable to policies of the institutions which allow diseases to spread unchecked.
— World Health Network
Vulnerable patients are forced to walk through unprotected areas even if their particular clinic or treatment area has precautions.
More than 14,000 people in England and Wales died with Covid after catching the virus in hospital.
According to official NHS data in England and Wales, 14,047 Brits died in hospital after they caught the virus following admission, whilst at least 69,337 people caught the virus only after having been admitted.
— The Mirror
Canadians are paying for the collection of the rates of nosocomial infections, yet have no access to that data.
88,803 more people died than expected in Canada (excess deaths) from Jan 25/20 to May 5/23.
Nearly double the deaths of WWII or the 1918–20 flu pandemic.
— Tara Moriarty
In spite of high rates of transmission and excess deaths, BC decided to end masking mandates in hospitals and LTC facilities on April 6, 2023. This risks the wellbeing of those at higher risk including seniors and immune compromised individuals.
The fact that staff were getting infected outside of these facilities suggests that mask mandates were working — that staff was being infected where mask mandates had already ended.
Don't rely on or spread misinformation.
Verify information using reliable sources before spreading it.
Investigate the source,
Find better coverage, and
Trace claims, quotes and media to the original context.
— The SIFT methodology
Use only reliable sources that can back their findings with hard evidence.
Unfortunately, many officials focused on political image rather than accurate information and protections.
Call 1-888-268-4319 for non-medical COVID info 7:30–8:00, 7 days a week.
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.
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
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).
[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.
Dr. Christiane Northrup went viral with some false claims about the mRNA COVID vaccines.
Unfortunately, the shake up at Twitter, including the changes made since Musk took over, have greatly damaged this resource.
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Updated: December 1, 2023