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COVID is having a Problem in the Future

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COVID-19 is no more dangerous than a serious cold or flu to a vast majority of people on the planet, is it not?

Those are the accusations and counter-arguments that many of the critics and the anti-mandate folks have been making for a long time.

Is it really a big deal if they are right?

As things stand, it would appear that they are just as bad as they seem if recent actions by the B.C. government are anything to go by.

Neil Godbout is managing editor of The Prince George Citizen. Brent Braaten
Neil Godbout is managing editor of The Prince George Citizen.
Brent Braaten

Updates on a daily basis are no longer provided. Data is no longer systematically collected on a daily basis. The masks and vaccine passports are no longer used. There is a return to large events. It is up to you to take any necessary precautions. To paraphrase the words of a wise woman, be kind, be calm, and be safe and secure at the same time.

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Despite the fact that COVID-19 and its variants are as widespread across Ontario as they have ever been, infection rates are still high, people are still dying of these diseases, and the virus – in all of its forms – seems set to stay.

How has the situation changed? It is evident that a large part of the population was vaccinated at least once or twice and a large portion of the population had a booster as well. Did all of this vaccination prove necessary? Were the lockdown, the vaccine, and the mandate actually able to help in the matter? If we were able to remove our masks three or six months ago, would we have had any better results? In this case, would it have been better to eliminate all masks, maintain occupancy limits and distances at stores and events, and encourage people to shop alone instead of in large groups?

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Government and public health officials need to provide answers to these legitimate questions, not only for what has happened in the past two years, but also for what will occur in the future. There are almost eight billion people in the world at the present time. Over half of them live in crowded urban areas, making it inevitable that a previously undiscovered virus will surface again sooner than we think.

For the majority of people, responding properly, especially if the virus that follows is much more deadly, requires that they put their trust in what their leaders and public health officials are telling them.

We have to earn that trust by admitting our mistakes over COVID-19 and making amends for them.

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COVID-19 had a major impact around the world two years ago, as obvious from the overflowing hospitals around the globe at that time. The virus later spread to hospitals, nursing homes and care facilities, causing havoc on them. People died alone both in hospitals as well as in nursing homes and care facilities. It was at least fortunate for those who were fortunate enough to be able to be with their families and friends in their last moments through Zoom and FaceTime.

According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion people contract the flu each year, and between 300,000 and 600,000 people die as a result. As reported Wednesday, Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 dashboard shows that some 500 million people have had COVID and 6.2 million have died over the past two years. If the last two years were viewed from a historical and a global perspective, would they be comparable to a really bad flu season?

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Hopefully future researchers will be able to get to the bottom of this in the future. Even at the best of times, it is notoriously hard to determine the cause of death, and last week in Ontario, the province changed the rules on how they record deaths caused by COVID-19.

It is okay to make changes to your response and to apologise for errors. If Health Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry were to apologize for their misidentifications and errors after a thorough review of the COVID-19 response, it would go a long way to restoring confidence in both of them. It would begin with the decisions they made that were based on guesses, not analyses. If a mysterious new virus makes many people ill and a lot of people die from it, it’s reasonable to expect the worst. Yet the majority of cases recovered, even before the vaccine was developed and widely circulated, which would seem to suggest that it was reasonable to expect the worst? Was it the best or the most reasonable thing to do in that situation?

As well as the broader social issues, there are also a number of other issues that need to be addressed.

Did the two years of focused effort on COVID-19 put at risk addressing the far more dangerous (in B.C. and Canada, for sure) and much more difficult epidemic of opioid addiction and toxic drug overdoses on top of the priority given to COVID-19? Does B.C. , as well as the rest of Canada, have enough hospital beds and does the number of physicians and nurses, especially in the rural areas, meet its needs? In the event of an emergency, what changes need to be made to the global supply chain so that the few countries that make drugs, masks, ventilators, and other essential medical equipment aren’t able to hog them all and/or charge exorbitant prices for them? I would like to know how much stockpiling is required, what type we will have to do and how much it will cost us.

In these circumstances, why did the rich get richer while remaining safe and isolated in isolation while the working class kept going to work and lost a lot more ground as a result of the pandemic? What is it about multinational corporations that insist governments stay out of their way, but when the market is not able to fix their problems, they are the ones who come crying for help and bailouts?

We have to be able to recognize that all of these questions are healthy, and the more that we can address them head-on, the better off humanity will be the next time around.

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