Despite COVID-19 control, why Canada is divided over reopening


This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly review of health and medical science news, sent to Subscribers every Saturday morning.If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can click Here.


After Canada has made incredible progress in combating the spread of COVID-19 through widespread vaccination and adherence to strict public health measures, the end of the pandemic may finally be in sight in Canada.

More than 15 months of immeasurable hard work has now paid off, and we are ready to cross the finish line and may shift our focus to helping other countries reach the finish line faster for the greater good of mankind.

Canadians should be rewarded for their efforts to end the third (hopefully the last) COVID-19 wave and quickly return to the normal way of life before the pandemic-without having to worry about this ruthless virus all the time The unknown ahead.

However, COVID-19 is not set in stone, and the uncertainty in the coming weeks and months has caused experts to diverge on what to do next-leading some people to call for a faster reopening, while others suggest to follow suit. As the pandemic subsides, we must act more cautiously.

On June 19th, a couple embraced while admiring the sunset in Vancouver’s English Bay. (Ben Nilms/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Delta variants bring new “challenges”

One wildcard that Canada has dealt with in recent weeks is the highly spread delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, which may single-handedly undermine our final plan and make our vaccination goals even more urgent.

Dr. Alison McGill, a medical microbiologist and infectious disease expert at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, said: “The problem is delta. We are obviously much better than in March, but we face the same challenges.”

“Three months ago, before we came up with delta, it looked like we would really be vaccinated and everything would be fine-but this virus is harder than that.”

Dr. Michael Gadam, an infectious disease expert in Toronto and Acting Chief Executive Officer of Health PEI, said he is approaching the summer with a “cautiously optimistic” attitude.

“If it weren’t for the delta variant, I think there would be more optimism. But I think we still have most Canadians who are not really protected,” he said.

“It’s weird, but because of this variant, we really haven’t changed much, and in fact, there is only one dose of the vaccine, only about one dose. 30% efficacy. So this is the challenge. “

Watch | What you need to know about delta variants:

The respiratory doctor broke down the known information about the delta variant of the coronavirus, including how it differs, how dangerous it is, and whether the vaccine can prevent it. 4:26

Federal health officials urge caution in reopening

Despite the delta spread, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Canada are declining every week, thanks to more than 37 million doses of vaccine So far-almost equivalent to the entire population of the country.

almost 80% Of eligible Canadians have at least one dose, and approximately 35% There are two-and this number is growing rapidly every day.

However, due to concerns that provinces and territories will lift restrictions prematurely and see a surge in COVID-19 levels and trigger another brutal wave or a destructive lockdown, senior federal public health officials remain extremely cautious when communicating messages to Canadians.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that although there are currently fewer than 640 COVID-19 cases per week, fewer than 1,000 hospitalizations, and fewer than 500 ICU patients, this is not the time to relax vigilance.

She said at a press conference on Tuesday: “We really have to be very cautious, because the provinces have just begun to open up, and then we will see what happens.”

“Even if we have good coverage, I think we still need to improve. And quite a few people have not yet been fully vaccinated.”

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo even stated that he “hopes to have 100% coverage of both doses in Canada”-a high goal that is almost impossible to achieve, far from the actual situation. 75% took one dose, 20% took two doses It is scheduled for late May.

Officials accused of “moving the goalposts” when reopening

As Canadians should celebrate our progress, the declining levels of COVID-19 provided by vaccines, and the safety activities we can carry out, some experts are critical of the “pessimistic” messages sent by federal health officials.

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease expert at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, said: “Whether it is at the federal level or for us, especially in Ontario, public health information has always been pessimistic.”

He added that this may have a negative impact on public perceptions of the pandemic.

“We are in the best position we are in. People are more afraid than a year ago when we didn’t have a vaccine.”

Despite the spread of delta, the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Canada continues to decline week by week as more than 37 million vaccine doses have been vaccinated so far. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Dr. Fahad Razak, an epidemiologist and physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said that the effectiveness of the vaccine has been proven to be a “scientific miracle” and should be “first in all our public health information.”

He said: “In this pandemic, we have had a very difficult 15 months, and we have experienced the longest and most severe public health restrictions in the world.”

“Canadians accepted and followed these recommendations very admirably and should recognize that we have achieved an incredible foundation in the past few months.”

Chakrabarti said that the continued negative tone of some federal and provincial health officials in the transmission of information made them “lost space” and exacerbated the “reopening anxiety”, and at the same time may “weaken the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

“Some people are fully vaccinated, but still worry about their lives; some people will say,’What’s the point of being vaccinated?’ So it actually encourages vaccine hesitation,” he said.

“Others felt that the carpet was pulled off, or they were moving the goalposts… People became frustrated and they didn’t see any hope.”

“We won’t close again”

On the same day, Tan said that although the 75-20 vaccine threshold has been exceeded, she does not support the abolition of the mandatory wearing of masks. British Columbia announced that it would recommend wearing masks, but No longer mandatory.

While at the same time Ontario Science Desk It is estimated that delta now accounts for more than 70% of cases in the province, and its reproduction value is higher than 1, which means that it may cause an exponential increase in cases in Ontario Move to step 2 of reopening a few days in advance.

“Yes, we want to lift the restrictions as soon as possible, but on the other hand, I don’t think any of us are willing to face the increase in deaths and hospitalizations and another wave that may occur. Close again,” McGill said.

“For the government and public health, it is really challenging that we can be the most relaxed state before we run into trouble, and how bad is it to slow down compared to having to go back?”

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said that although there are currently fewer than 640 COVID-19 cases per week, fewer than 1,000 hospitalizations, and fewer than 500 ICU patients, this is not the time to relax vigilance. (Ben Nilms/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Gardam said that although some experts say that it is impossible to completely get rid of the pandemic through vaccination, it may be close to doing so, but there is a warning: if restrictions are relaxed too early, the virus will find infection in vulnerable people.

Chakrabarti said that since the elderly, long-term care residents and other people at risk of serious consequences are basically vaccinated, the surge in cases caused by delta will not be as severe as in the past.

But McGeer said that it is unclear what effect the spread of the Canadian Delta might have in the coming weeks and months.

“We don’t know how many people need to be vaccinated to alleviate this situation. We don’t know how well people protect against serious diseases from the delta,” she said. “We are really in a very uncertain period.”

Gardam said that what he is most worried about right now is not necessarily the spread of delta itself, but that Canadians cannot tolerate another blockade in the future.

“If we get into the fourth wave, you have to shut everything down again, and God will help us. I mean, can you imagine what the public will do with it? For me, this is an absolute no-go zone,” he Say.

“That’s it. We won’t close the door again. So please, let us not do anything reckless to the point that we actually force ourselves to close the door again.


This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly review of health and medical science news, sent to Subscribers every Saturday morning.If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can click Here.



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