JUST THE FACTS: Arm yourself with this COVID-19 information

Although COVID-19 has been the main topic of conversation for the last 10 months, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these discussions have been well-informed, nuanced or contextualized. 

With so many individuals, mainstream media organizations and policymakers provoking fear and aggressively pushing for restrictions, curfews and further lockdowns, the facts are more important than ever.

COVID-19 and Children

Since the beginning of the pandemic, three individuals aged zero to 19 have died with a death attributed to COVID-19. According to Canadian government data, more children die of the seasonal flu in any given year than have due to COVID-19.

In BC, less than 1% of schoolchildren have tested positive for COVID-19. Children are deemed not at a high risk for COVID-19 infection, thus in-class learning has remained in place.

In fact, London, Ont.’s top public health official Dr. Chris Mackie says keeping schools open is “a public health measure that likely slows the spread of COVID.” Mackie says 80% of student cases were “linked to a previous COVID case at home, not at school.”

Nearly 90% of coronavirus-related deaths have occurred in individuals aged 70 and older. COVID-19 is more dangerous than the flu for old folks, but the opposite is true for young people. 

Comorbidities

Statistics Canada reported in November that 100% of Canadians under the age of 45 that died of COVID-19 had at least one other disease or condition listed on the medical certificate of death. 

Of all COVID-involved deaths analyzed from March to July, 90% had at least one other cause.

Long-term care homes

According to Dr. Theresa Tam’s 2020 annual report on the coronavirus, 80% of Canadian COVID-19 deaths tragically occurred in residents of long-term care homes.

Gyms

In Ontario, 435 of the province’s 215,782 COVID-19 cases have been linked to recreational fitness settings. Less than 0.1% of cases have been transmitted in recreational fitness settings, yet Ontario has shut down these facilities. 

Retail 

Though provinces like Quebec and Ontario have put the retail sector on lockdown, Ontario government data indicate the entire provincial retail sector has been directly linked to just 586 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. This accounts for less than 0.1% of the Ontario caseload.

Salons and spas

A mere 38 cases of COVID-19 are linked to services like hair salons and spas in Ontario, accounting for less than 0.1% of the province’s cases, yet Premier Doug Ford has shut down these businesses.

The COVID Alert app

Though many COVID Alert app users believe they will receive a ping if it turns out they briefly brushed by someone COVID-positive in an aisle at Costco, the federal COVID Alert app doesn’t actually register a contact unless you’ve been within six feet of someone for 15 minutes or longer. 

The federal app currently has 5.9 million downloads and only works on smartphones manufactured within the last five years or so.

Lockdowns

Canadian medical expert Dr. Ari Joffe initially supported lockdowns as a method to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but after doing a cost-benefit analysis on the government-mandated restrictions he concluded that they are not justifiable. Joffe estimates that the harms caused by lockdown measures are at least five to 10 times greater than the benefits, as a population plagued by economic downturn, unemployment and loneliness is at risk of early mortality, reduced lifespan and chronic disease.

Further, the World Health Organization urged governments to not plunge their citizens into another lockdown to combat a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Zero-COVID strategies

Some Canadian health professionals and policy advocates are pushing for a “COVID-zero” or “near-zero” approach to the virus, by implementing any and all means necessary to bring the caseload down to zero or almost zero. But the head of the World Health Organization Emergencies Program Dr. Mike Ryan stated that the coronavirus will most likely become another endemic virus that will remain “somewhat of a threat, but a very low-level threat in the context of an effective global vaccination program.” Any kind of “COVID-zero” strategy is therefore incompatible with the latest coronavirus science.

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