The Season

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.

5 thoughts on “The Season

  1. Justausername says:

    Covid has flattened the Flu.

    https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/fluwatch/2020-2021/week-04-january-24-january-30-2021.html

    “To date, there is no evidence of community circulation of influenza. Influenza testing continues at seasonal levels. No laboratory detections of influenza were reported in week 04. Influenza activity remains below the threshold required to declare the start of the 2020-21 influenza season.”

    “In week 04, no laboratory detections of influenza were reported.

    To date this season, 55 influenza detections have been reported (Figure 2), which is significantly lower than the past six seasons where an average of 23,972 influenza detections were reported for the season to date.

    Twenty seven of the influenza detections reported to date this season are known to be associated with recent live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) receipt and do not represent community circulation of seasonal influenza viruses.”

    I am sure people will twist themselves into knots trying to explain this, but my guess is that the covid testing is trash and over represents “positive results” as cases. People keep talking about PCR testing as the ‘gold standard” but this is a mirage as you can keep amplifying the sample until you get the result you want, which seems to a positive test. “Got a negative at 30 cycles? Run to 35 cycles. Still negative, go to 40!” A reasonable cutoff would lower the positive cases at least 50%, and perhaps more, if previous articles in the media are any indication.

  2. Justausername says:

    Flu update:

    https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/fluwatch/2020-2021/week-08-february-21-february-27-2021.html

    “To date this season (week 35-2020 to week 08-2021), there has been no evidence of community circulation of influenza. Influenza testing continues at seasonal levels. No laboratory detections of influenza were reported in week 08. Influenza activity remains below the threshold required to declare the start of the 2020-21 influenza season.

    In week 08, no laboratory detections of influenza were reported.

    To date this season, 65 influenza detections have been reported (Figure 2), which is significantly lower than the past six seasons where an average of 35,548 influenza detections were reported for the season to date. All provinces and territories are closely monitoring indicators of influenza activity this season. Data in the FluWatch report represent surveillance data available at the time of writing, and may change as updates are received.”

    A modern day miracle – Still no one knows why all the lockdowns work against the flu but not the Wuhan version. There must be something about covid that is different, I guess?

    • Terry Rudden says:

      “No one knows why all the lockdowns work against the flu but not the Wuhan version. There must be something about covid that is different, I guess?”
      Well, it’s not a strain of “flu”, although I understand why Sinophobes are trying to keep the Trumpian term “Wuhan Flu” in circulation.
      Lockdowns “work” to some extent against ANY communicable disease, as do the public health measures in place to address COVID.

    • John says:

      “A modern day miracle – Still no one knows why all the lockdowns work against the flu but not the Wuhan version. There must be something about covid that is different, I guess?”

      Umm – no one knows? Try googling Ro (R naught) values.

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