Conflicted, I am, to hear the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. Moore talk about the expected exponential growth of the Omicron variant BA.2, his recommendation to wear masks in public, but to not proactively re-implement Ontario’s mask mandate. it sounds like he’s talking from both sides of his mouth and it makes no sense. For a guy that is quite logically minded, it really looks like something is amiss.
There is no dispute from Dr. Moore, or from the Ontario Science Council that Ontario CoVid-19 infection numbers have grown, and continue to grow. Wastewater analysis of the virus is really the most accurate numbers we have. It is also clear that infections of school-aged kids is markedly higher than before, with more kids and their teachers booking off sick.
Dr. Moore’s response is that as long as hospital capacity is not in jeopardy that all is fine and we do not need further precautions. This is in contrast to Public Health Ontario’s report COVID-19 Omicron Variant Sub-lineage BA.2: Evidence and Risk Assessment (up to date as of April 5, 2022). Kids rarely do not get very sick, so there’s nothing else necessary to do for them. kids getting sick and then recovering does not mean there is no danger to them, their parents and grandparents.
While this may or may not be true for our healthcare system, health care workers have gone through a two year hell, are stressed and have yet to recover from the last Omicron wave. Hospital capacity should not be measured by the number of free beds, but by those who look after the patient in these beds. Without sufficient health care workers, hospital beds will stay vacant. We have not given health care workers sufficient time to recover before the next CoVid-19 variant onslaught.
Apart from people getting sick and landing in hospital, Ontario continues to rely on immunizations, specifically two. However most infectious disease experts have stated that two shots plus the booster is what is required, as immunity wanes with time. In this respect, Ontario is quite unprepared. The number of people over 12 years old with two shots and a booster is a mere 60% or so. From 5 to 11 years old, only 50% have had a single does and only 35% have had two doses. Further, there is no vaccine available for kids under 5 years old. This clearly shows that Ontario is woefully under-vaccinated against Omicron BA.2. With this we are heading into a virus storm, forewarned but not forearmed?
It is true that fewer people that are infected with Omicron BA.2 are going to hospital, but are sticking it out at home. They are still getting sick. The risk of Long Covid has not been accounted for if you only take hospital admission numbers into account. Would not an across the board reduction of infections be a much better statistic to to aim for?
After over two years of pandemic, we do know what to do in order to control the spread of the virus: vaccines and boosters, face masks, social distancing, additional ventilation, stay home. What happened to the other mitigation measures? Why are they all left off the table? Who has said that relying on only vaccines is somehow now adequate, when we know clearly that breakthrough infections are common and widespread.
The Ontario government has provided vaccines to anyone who wants them, but still there are 10% of people who refuse. This is their choice, but their choice also influences and imperils the rest of us who have been vaccinated. Those people who are immune-compronised and those below 5 years old have no choice. Myst this portion of our society simply hide until we the virus wanes on its own?
As Omicron BA.2 infections rise in Ontario I hope that Dr. Moore and Ontario do the right thing and restore at least the face mask provision. This will provide at least some protection for all the people of Ontario. The reinstatement of the vaccine passport, if updated for the booster, will encourage more people to get vaccinated and this protect more Ontarians.
Is some leadership too much to as from Ontario politicians?