Tag Archives: Dr. Bonnie Henry

Surf’s Up

4th Delta Wave building in BC

4th wave incoming.

British Columbia has a vax rate over 80% for first jabs with second jabs catching up fast. We also have exponential growth in “case” numbers and hospitalizations and admissions to the ICU are rising as well.

Our Health Minister and Public Health Officer have called a press conference tomorrow where, I expect, they will announce some restrictions – almost certainly travel restrictions, earlier bar closings and, perhaps, a return of the indoor mask mandate.

They will also probably have some unkind words for the unvaccinated although I would be very surprised if any form of vax passport was introduced.

While these measures will be pitched as public health responses to the 4th Delta wave they are, in fact, political responses to a fearful population a vocal portion of which is demanding “action”. The population is fearful because, it turns out that even a successful vaccination program, and BC has many shots in arms, does not actually stop COVID. While this may be blamed on the unvaccinated, the evidence from Israel and Gibraltar and Iceland suggests even high levels of vaccination, while helpful as to outcome, does not stop the Delta 4th wave.

I suspect Dr. Bonnie Henry already knew this. Minister Dix is a smart guy and likely knew this was coming. But the vax was oversold as immunizing when it isn’t. For the fearful, the vax was “the solution”. Now that it turns out to be pretty much a therapeutic rather than a sterilizing vaccine the fearful feel even more vulnerable. Which, in turn means they are advocating for restrictions, the harsher the better. Which is what, I suspect, Dix and Henry will be responding to tomorrow. (Remember, Henry did not impose BC’s first mask mandate, it was imposed by the government at the request of the BC Retail Council – public health had very little to do with it.)

Frightened people demand solutions, the more draconian the better. Politicians have to deal with those demands. The new school year is around the corner, the COVIDians – double vaxxed for safety and masking even without the mandate – are petrified that the Delta variant will kill them. They want the government to back up their fear with the traditional “strict measures”.

It will be interesting to see which way BC jumps. Will it continue along the path to more complete re-opening even at the risk of a rise in “cases” – as Alberta has done – or will it start the mask mandate/travel restriction regime again? Politically, this is a question of whether the government values fear over freedom. From a public health perspective there does not seem to be much that will stop the Delta 4th wave – at least anything which is open for public discussion.

I suspect fear is going to win tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t, but the fearful are a very motivated bunch. I hope that Dr. Henry stops short of re-imposing masks but, even more, I hope she takes a moment to remind people to take a walk in the sun, eat well, lose a bit of weight and rely on their vaccines, their natural immunity and the systems which support it.

The 4th Delta wave is upon us. I suspect the vast majority of us will be just fine.

UPDATE: I was wrong. Fear did not win this round. The only significant announcement was a vax requirement for people working in LTC facilities. While I doubt this will make much difference there is a logic driven rather than fear driven reason for such a mandate.

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The wrong way to mask

COVID-19, British Columbia, mask mandate

“Until now, B.C. has resisted calls for a mandatory mask order, instead making it the responsibility of businesses, transit operators and community service agencies to implement their own rules.

“The mask mandate is not something that in and of itself has made a difference in terms of transmission,” the province’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as late as Wednesday.

On Thursday, she said the change in policy was due to increasing public pressure, including from businesses, expressing concerns about putting the onus of enforcing piecemeal policy onto workers.

The mask mandate isn’t being implemented by public health order, but by B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth under the extraordinary powers granted by the province’s record-breaking state of emergency. It’s not clear when it will take effect.” ctvnews

I had been under the impression that Dr. Henry had changed her mind for public health reasons. Apparently not.

Now the government’s public health policy is being dictated by “public pressure”. Whether masking works or not is a matter of scientific debate. My own reading of the literature suggests that “mask mandates” have virtually no effect. (Which is not the same as saying that masks don’t work. They may in certain circumstances.) But that literature has been tossed under the bus by “public pressure”.

To date I have been rather impressed with the BC Government’s tempered response to COVID. Through Dr. Henry it has treated British Columbians as adults. But, most of all, there was a deference to the best science Dr. Henry and her colleagues could access. That has gone out the window.

At a guess, when case numbers continue to rise, “public pressure” will mount for full, enforced, lock down regardless of the fact that the science is, at best, equivocal as to the efficacy of full lock downs. And there may well be “public pressure” to close the schools, again in the face of very little evidence that school closure helps much.

At the moment the public, goaded by an hysterical media, is terrified. Which will mean that “public pressure” can be mustered for virtually any policy which appears to have some effect on COVID. Worse, as the CTV article illustrates, if one province is doing something there is an expectation that other provinces should do the same thing. This is irrational.

If anything, the need is to be more granular. Take a look at regions and sub regions and tailor the public health response to the facts on the ground. Simply working very hard to protect out elderly may have a better public health outcome than masking, lockdowns and school closures. But if “public pressure” is all it takes to make sweeping, province wide, restrictive orders the scientific basis, medical outcome and economic consequences of such orders will be moot.

BC, through the grace of Dr. Bonnie Henry, held onto science as the basis for decisions. We have now succumbed to the Karens.

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