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Whats the point
Roxanne Halverson
/ Categories: Ontario, Opinion

Whats the point

OTTAWA, ONTARIO  ~~~~~~  January 8, 2021  (LSN)  WHAT IS The POINT – questioning at COVID 19 measures and missteps in 2020

We have gladly bid good riddance to 2020, but we enter 2021 with COVID-19 still among us and amidst predictions that it will be with us for some time despite the fact that there is now a vaccine. People, no doubt influenced by a combination of COVID-19 fatigue and by media enthusiasm for the vaccine, appear optimistic that 2021 will be better. Yet, there are still many questions ahead and answers and accountabilities to be sought and clarified for some of the actions and accountabilities of our political leaders, regarding their response to the virus to date.

What was the point of restrictions and lockdowns when cases and deaths still spiked?

Regarding the ongoing restrictions and lockdowns. How did they morph that from asking people to social distance, voluntarily wear masks, and stay home, to instituting draconian compliance measures and even curfews? More alarming are the rising incidents of police arresting, fining, and physically assaulting individuals who challenge or refuse to submit to the “rules”. How did two weeks of lockdowns and measures intended to “flatten the curve”, evolve into eleven months of perpetual quasi-house arrests, small business and school closures, the cancellation of holidays, weddings, graduations, religious services, and other important life celebrations, and ongoing domestic and international travel restrictions? What was the point of canceling routine and elective medical procedures and diagnostic testing, BEFORE, the expected first wave of COVID-19 patients began to flood hospital wards and ICUs. That deluge never happened, and the reality is that many of the people who succumbed to COVID-19 during the first wave, never made it to hospitals, because they were residents of long term care homes who were left to languish and die in those same facilities. Perhaps it is time to ask what was the point of government-imposed severe lockdowns that crippled the economy and many lives and

livelihoods and gradually stripped away liberties we once took for granted, when its own statistics reveal that, during those lockdowns, Canada saw COVID-19 death rates spike, in the elderly and particularly those residing in long term care facilities.  (Source: Worldometer)

What was and is the point destructive consecutive lockdowns, when better options are ignored

Perhaps it is time to ask, what is the point of governments’ non-sensical and often conflicting rules and measures that seem to have little impact in stemming the tide of COVID-19 while ignoring the many voices that have called for a different approach to managing it.

This includes the authors of, and signatories to, the Great Barrington Declaration who outlined their concerns about the damaging physical, mental, and social impacts of the prevailing severe COVID-19 response policies. Published in October 2020, authored by medical professionals hailing from Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford universities, and signed by some 14,000 doctors, epidemiologists and public health experts it proposes that, rather than imposing blanket restrictions and lockdowns, governments should take a more targeted COVID-19 response philosophy by better protecting the most vulnerable members of society, while allowing those whose risk of contracting a severe case of the virus move on with their daily lives.

The voices of a group of doctors in Ontario who penned a letter to Premiere Dough Ford in September 2020, advising the government against further use of very extreme lockdown measures fell on deaf ears. This despite that what they were asserting made a considerable amount of sense, “Lockdowns have not been shown to eliminate the virus. While they slow the spread, this only lasts as long as the lockdown lasts. This creates a situation where there is no way to end the lockdown, and society cannot move forward in vitally important ways including in the health sector, the economy and other critically important goods including education, recreation and health human social interactions.”

What is the point of testing and counting case numbers, when testing methods produce false positives?

Our governments tell us that they must impose these lockdowns due to rising case numbers, for fear that these cases will end up putting undue strain on an already overburdened healthcare system. Yet they rarely mention that the primary reason for these rising cases is the fact that testing has soared since the early months of the pandemic.

There is also the fact that those rising case numbers may include false positives, largely attributed the process the current test—the PCR test—uses to detect COVID-19 in samples taken from individuals. The samples go through a series of amplification cycles in order to “see” the virus, but there is no set limit on how many of these cycles a sample is put through to detect the virus. There are a series of problems with this. The first is that when a positive test result is delivered to the doctor or testing facility, it does not stipulate the number of cycles that were required to produce a positive result. This leads to the second problem. Someone with even a tiny fragment of even dead virus, which may be from a previous infection they didn’t know they had, would receive a positive result, yet they don’t have COVID-19 and are not, in any way, contagious. The final problem again concerns the omission of the number of amplification cycles in the test results. Just as the more cycles a sample is put through to detect the virus may mean the person neither has the virus and is not contagious, the fewer cycles a sample goes through to produce a positive result means it has a high “viral load” and the person is very contagious and should isolate immediately.

What is the point of following the rules, when rule-makers don’t

We listened to government and health officials prattle on daily about how we must make sacrifices and “stay home” to stop the spread to save lives. Yet many of these same officials, it appears, don’t believe their own COVID-19 gospel. A host of elected officials and government staffers decided it was okay to spend their Christmas holidays out of the country while telling us to stay put. Some, such as Ontario’s now former Finance Minister Rod Philips, even went to great lengths to maintain the facade that he was still in Canada. Travel isn’t the only element of the rule makers not walking their talk, but it is surely the most blatant and egregious one. What is the point, people might ask, of governments of all stripes demanding that people to abide by and take seriously what they say about fighting COVID-19, when members of their own parties either don’t really believe it, or think the rules don’t apply to them. Either way, the optics are bad and should give rise to cynicism in the people who followed the “rules” in earnest. 

What was the point of border closures, when they weren’t really closed?

While on the subject of travel and border closures, what was the point of our government maintaining they had closed our borders, when, in fact, international flights continued to arrive daily from any number of countries, during the entire course of this pandemic. What was the point of advising incoming travelers to simply isolate themselves for two weeks when there were no real measures in place to monitor or enforce such isolation instructions? As a matter of fact, it is only after media, public and political pressure that the Federal Government finally began instituting measures for actually requiring incoming passengers on international flights to produce a negative COVID-19 test before they are allowed to enter the country. This happening now, some TEN months into the pandemic?

What is the point of the vaccine if you’re still contagious?

We are now equipped with a vaccine and a quantity of doses was delivered to Canada in December. As of January 7th, almost 437,000 have been delivered to the provinces and 47.1%  amounting 0.57 percent of Canadians having received at least one dose of a vaccine. (note: the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both require two doses two weeks apart to be fully effective).

Yet, as we prepare to roll up our sleeves there are questions about the current vaccines that haven’t really been fully answered. The first is how vaccine recipients will be prioritized. So far it appears that front-line health care workers and the elderly, particularly residents of long-term care homes. After that, it gets a bit fuzzy, but apparently, inmates in federal prisons have jumped to the top of the list. The second is how long will the vaccine remain effective. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer for this from any of the developers thus far.

The third is as important as it is perplexing. It concerns the fact that while developers of the vaccine maintain it will prevent recipients from contracting and getting sick with the virus, they can’t say if it will stop them from spreading it. No clear reason has been provided to explain this conundrum, other than though immunized a person may still carry the virus and be contagious.

So one might ask, what is the point of inoculating front-line health care workers if they may still spread the virus?  What is the point of inoculating just some residents in a long term care home, if they may still spread the virus to other residents who have not yet been inoculated? Finally, what is the point of having a very expensive vaccine that, for some time, will not change how we live in the so-called  “new normal” of masks, social distancing, inane restrictions, and consecutive lockdowns? Exactly what percentage of a population will have to be vaccinated before we can, in fact, return to our truly normal lives, if ever.

What is the point in looking ahead to 2021?

So, can we look ahead to 2021 with some optimism about COVID-19? After all, we do have a vaccine now. With that we can hope that our governments have learned from past mistakes and missteps and gained new insights from their increased knowledge about many aspects of the virus. We can hope that they use this experience and knowledge to move forward in a more anticipatory and strategic direction over the reactionary approach they took in managing COVID-19 over the course of 2020. Unfortunately with deaths in long term care facilities still topping the list, while our federal government has decided inmates in federal prisons should be vaccinated over and above those most vulnerable, and the recent introduction of baseless draconian curfews and costly fines in an already locked down Quebec, we still may be asking “what’s the point” yet again in 2021.

By: Roxanne Halverson
Former TBT anchor and reporter Thunder Bay, Ontario
Living in Ottawa (retired RCMP Senior Emergency Management Planner


#LSN_TBay #LSN_Opinion 

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