COVID-19 cases in BC appear to be slowing down.
The peak was at the beginning of November. Which makes sense as that is roughly where the peak of the flu season falls. At a guess, we are likely to see a further decline which will track seasonal flu. The “flu season” is generally over by May.
I suspect the experience in other jurisdictions will be similar. I also suspect that the public hysteria about COVID will wear off over February and March and be pretty much gone by May. In BC, at least, we have not had “lockdowns” and the schools are open in a manner of speaking. People are sticking pretty close to home and masks are universal inside. Which may or may not be making a difference.
Only 145,000 vaccination doses have been administered and there is virtually no vaccine left. I would be very surprised if we manage to administer more than 200,000 doses by the time the virus peters out. The elderly, frontline care workers and First Nations people have been our priorities and it may have made a difference. Hard to tell until the weekly death statistics are available.
My general point is that the peak of COVID-19 in BC is behind us. The vaccine should reduce the death rate. So should the rehabilitation of HCQ and the deployment of ivermectin as well as a host of other proactive therapies. Our hospitals have climbed the COVID learning curve and out comes for most people who are under 85 and not already ill are steadily improving.
The British Columbia economy has taken a hit and will continue to stagger; but there is plenty of economic activity and businesses have adapted to the various restrictions and requirements.
What needs to happen now at the provincial level, is a top to bottom analysis of our response to COVID. What did we do right, what could we have done better, what will we do when the next pandemic/serious flu arrives? This is not about blame as, frankly, both the government and the public health service got a lot more right than wrong. But we need to think about how to improve our response.
A few suggestions:
- Begin a program to increase surge ICU capacity at all BC hospitals – set a goal of an additional “x” number of ICU beds per year and make that investment.
- stockpile PPE – we need to have enough to last for a couple of months without re-supply.
- Get serious about long term care facilities – the vast majority of the deaths in BC were the elderly and particularly the elderly in LTCs. We need to do very much better and we need to have a plan in place for very early intervention when the next pandemic comes over the horizon. We also need to work at upgrading the facilities we have and build new ones.
- Prepare a “stay at home” plan – two weeks to flatten the curve actually worked quite well in BC. It was not a strict lockdown but everyone tried hard to stay at home. Next time we should all know that there will be a stay at home period and that we must all plan accordingly.
- Be ready with border closures/quarantine requirements for travelers. Yes, this is a federal responsibility; but there is no reason to think the feds will be any better next time than they were this time. BC should have legislation which requires a period of isolation for all international travelers.
- Have a plan for schools: COVID was not particularly dangerous for children but the uncertainty which surrounded plans for schools caused a lot of disruption. Knowing that the schools will likely be closed a set period after a Health Emergency has been declared would help.
- Right from the go, starting now, put out the message that a strong immune system is a very good thing: Vitamin D, C and outdoor activity daily are a great start. Trying to build the immune systems of every British Columbian in anticipation of the next pandemic makes a lot of sense.
- Harden day to day systems – simple things like staggering working hours to avoid transit crowding may not be all that sexy, but they can make a huge difference
- Do serious analysis of how COVID spread in BC. We are going to have a very rich data set. We need to use it. Ex poste analysis should tell us where the super spreader events were and what actually happened. Whether it was dentists at the convention center or my Big Fat East Indian Wedding, we need to know.
- Come up with a clear and consistent reporting system. Dr. Henry and Minister Dix have done very well but the more information we have the more willing we’ll be to help end the next pandemic
COVID-19 is a wake-up call, a live fire exercise with relatively few casualties. We may not be quite so lucky with the next super flu. The Spanish flu killed 10X the people COVID has. There is no reason to believe that a virus of that lethality is not going to arrive sometime in the next couple of decades. We need to be prepared.