‘Inducing Anger’: Expert Frustrated With COVID-19 Messages From Public Health Officials

A biology expert and researcher is expressing her frustration with ongoing messages from public health officials about COVID-19, which she believes are misleading.

Dr. Gosia Gasperowicz, a developmental biologist at the University of Calgary, said during a Protect Our Province BC briefing on Thursday that since Omicron hit, the message from government and public health officials in the Western world changed from one focused on prevention to one who is interested in “pushing” infections to people.

“It almost seems like we, especially in January and February, the entire Western world, switched to pushing the infection onto people. [with] several, several misleading narratives,” he said.

Western countries and jurisdictions, according to Gasperowicz, have done so simply by telling the public that they will get infected with the virus one way or another, something BC’s top doctor once mentioned during a live briefing in December amid a flood of infections.

“It induces anger,” said Gasperowicz, who is a member of Zero Covid Canadaa group calling on Canada to adopt a zero-COVID strategy.

Gasperowicz believes that by conveying the message that people will get infected and there is nothing they can do about it, government and public health officials are “promoting” the spread of COVID-19. He also said that herd immunity is not possible.

“’It’s almost like telling people you’re going to get infected, you can’t do anything about it and then it’s over … but it doesn’t solve anything,’” he said. “If you are infected [you can] be infected a second time, a third time, a fourth time.”

RELATED: BC ends daily COVID-19 reporting, changes how deaths are counted

Gasperowicz’s comments come a few days after a report by the BC Modeling Group suggested that recorded cases of COVID-19 in the province could reach nearly 4,000 a day by June in a high-transmission scenario or as high as nearly 2,000 a day. in a low transmission scenario. broadcast environment. The report suggests the rise in new cases will be driven by Omicron’s highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant, which now accounts for more than 70 percent of all new infections in BC, in combination with a relaxation of restrictions.

Dr. Sarah Otto, who is a member, told CHEK News in an interview Wednesday that with a sixth wave coming, there are some areas where public health measures need to remain in place.

“Right now with an increase in BA.2, no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service, at least in essential services like supermarkets and buses,” he said.

Hospitalizations could range from fewer than 500 a day to nearly 2,500 a day by mid-June, though the report notes that predictions vary widely because they are based on trends and data from the BCCDC dashboard, which is updated irregularly across all hospitals. health authorities, resulting in a “great underestimation and overestimation of new admissions” per day.

The BC government’s own projections, released Tuesday, suggest hospitalizations could rise to 100 or more people a day by the end of May. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s top physician, said Tuesday that there will likely be a spike in cases in the coming weeks, followed by a gradual decline, but that the level of risk to the general population is low.

“There are very few people who are already at that high level of risk,” he said. “That’s because we’ve had this highly effective vaccine.”

However, Gasperowicz, who also produced similar model charts for the BC Modeling Group, said there appears to be “an illusion” that cases are currently under control and everything is going to be okay.

“We see it with every wave. It’s a wave going down, but underneath is a new wave or a new variant…because the risk protections were removed,” she said. “This flatness is an illusion. It’s misleading. We know that BA.2 is growing.”

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Coronavirus cases have been on the rise in many parts of the world recently. China, which has operated under a strict zero COVID policy, has seen large outbreaks of the virus in some of its provinces and cities. Shanghai, which has been dealing with a large-scale outbreak for weeks, on Wednesday reported 17,077 new cases detected during the previous day. The outbreak, fueled by a surge of BA.2 Omicron infections, has resulted in more than 90,000 recorded cases in the city.

Dr. Mike Ryan of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program said during a news conference last month that the reproductive number of COVID has risen above one in many countries, leading to an increase in new cases. He said one reason is relaxation of restrictions, which can lead to what he called “rebound” or rebound transmission.

“Opening quickly and removing almost all restrictions almost definitely results in an uptick in infections, the question is what impact that uptick will have. We have seen the impact that the BA.2 sublineage has had in Asia and its increased transmissibility,” he said. “We are now seeing an increase in pressure in Europe due to that virus, which has that additional degree of transmissibility and a lot of reinfections.”

Nationwide, health officials in Alberta and Saskatchewan indicated Thursday that cases appear to be on the rise, while Quebec officials acknowledged a sixth wave is underway and extended the province’s indoor mask-wearing mandate. . quebec and Prince Edward Island are now the only provinces where masks must be worn in all public places.

Meanwhile, a scientific panel in Ontario has predicted the province will see a “tidal wave” of new cases based on sewage monitoring, which currently suggests there are actually between 100,000 and 120,000 new infections each day, a vast difference from the 4,224 new cases Ontario reported on Thursday.

Here in British Columbia, officials have formally ended daily COVID-19 reporting and moved to a weekly system. Reported cases have increased slightly in recent days, while the province’s positivity rate has risen 33 percent since March 21, according to data on the BCCDC website.

RELATED: WHO warns countries not to reduce COVID-19 testing

Cases are likely to be much higher than what has been publicly reported because British Columbia is among a handful of provinces that have reported artificially low confirmed case counts and severely limited access to PCR tests despite the fact that The WHO has urged countries not to reduce testing for COVID-19. .

CHEK News specifically asked the Ministry of Health if BC would expand access to PCR testing or increase PCR laboratory testing following the WHO’s comments.

In an emailed statement, the ministry did not respond specifically to whether testing would be expanded to more people or whether laboratory testing would be increased.

Instead, the ministry said testing is only recommended for people with symptoms who are “at the highest risk of experiencing serious illness and may benefit from treatment” or those who work or live in a high-risk environment, such as healthcare workers or those in long-term care.

The ministry also stated that British Columbia still has the capacity to process 20,000 COVID-19 PCR tests per day.

However, since December 12, BC has only achieved its stated goal of 20,000 PCR tests per day twice.

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