COVID: Is Canada on track to help end the pandemic?


A month in the past, the director-general of the World Health Organization made optimistic statements about the pandemic’s end, stating {that a} end line was on the horizon.

“We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” mentioned Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus throughout a media briefing on Sept. 14.

But what would it not take to get to that end? Ghebreyesus emphasised that now’s the time to “run harder” and now could be the “worst time” to cease working. He specified that international locations mustn’t ease up on a number of well being interventions and insurance policies wanted to proceed to combat COVID-19.

Those insurance policies are really helpful to nations in the type of six briefs that had been revealed at the time of the press convention.

They are: sustaining COVID-19 testing, medical administration of COVID-19, reaching COVID-19 vaccination targets (whereas prioritizing high-risk teams), sustaining an infection prevention and management measures in health-care amenities, constructing belief via neighborhood engagement, and managing the COVID-19 “infodemic” to fight misinformation.

The WHO has additionally warned this fall that it expects new waves to be pushed by rising variants of concern and subvariants that scientists are conserving a detailed eye on, as some have important immune-system evading components.

The newest epidemiological replace the WHO revealed on Oct. 19 signifies that globally, instances declined six per cent the week of Oct. 10 to 16, with 2.9 million instances reported.

However, the WHO cautions in its report that many international locations have modified their testing methods and fewer checks are being carried out, with fewer instances being caught.

Although the decline reported in the newest WHO replace is constructive information, it nonetheless comes with the caveat {that a} complete of 618 million confirmed instances and 6.5 million deaths have been reported globally since the starting of the pandemic, and the numbers are doubtless increased primarily based on instances and deaths that go undocumented.

As properly, the international south is continuous to face vaccine provide points and inequities which have led to devastating penalties in a number of nations, and the virus isn’t set to be endemic anytime quickly, in accordance to a latest editorial in Nature Human Behaviour.

The WHO additionally says that a number of international locations are nonetheless reporting tons of of 1000’s of latest instances every week, together with Germany, France, China and Italy.

In Canada, the newest COVID-19 replace on Oct. 14 signifies that about 20,000 new instances had been reported the week prior. Between Oct. 10 and Oct.17, the variety of folks hospitalized elevated from 3,550 to 3,875, following a regular upward development in hospitalizations since the begin of October.

While Canada has seen some success in combating the pandemic, due to having the ability to procure vaccines and implement border management measures and masking mandates which have since been lifted, a number of areas urgently want to be improved on, or the pandemic will probably be extended in the nation, infectious illness specialists advised

With new subvariants rising, hospital programs collapsing in some areas, and a few fatigue round booster doses, there’s extra that may be performed to keep away from getting off track, they mentioned. 


Colin Furness, an an infection management epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, advised that what’s alarming to him is that the WHO hasn’t emphasised the want for indoor air high quality enhancements.

In the WHO’s “maintaining infection prevention” transient, revealed Sept. 14, the group contains details about the significance of implementing environmental and engineering controls in health-care settings, with an emphasis on air flow, and touches on air high quality enchancment wants. 

Furness mentioned the WHO ought to have extra public, direct emphasis on airborne controls and since it took two years for the group to acknowledge the illness is airborne, that impacted international locations like Canada, the place these measures usually are not carried out in locations comparable to Ontario’s hospitals, he mentioned.

It took almost two years into the pandemic for Ontario’s prime medical doctors to acknowledge that COVID-19 is airborne and the acknowledgment got here after many well being companies and health-care suppliers known as on the authorities to undertake airborne transmission protocols. 

When requested whether or not Ontario hospitals have protocols centred on airborne COVID transmission, the Ontario Hospital Association, which represents 154 public hospitals in the province, advised {that a} directive issued in the fall of 2020 to get hospitals to adjust to COVID-19 measures has since been changed with pointers from the Ministry of Health. Those pointers “provide direction to all health care workers and health care entities on infection prevention and control (IPAC) and personal protective equipment (PPE) measures for COVID-19,” the OHA mentioned in an e mail.

According to the province’s hospital pointers, sufferers who’ve or are suspected to have COVID-19 and will probably be present process medical procedures that would place health-care staff in danger, must be positioned in airborne an infection isolation rooms. If these aren’t accessible, thepatient must be positioned in a single room with the door closed.

As properly, HEPA filters will be positioned right into a affected person’s room for added filtration and home windows must be opened if doable, the pointers state.

Other provinces like B.C.  and Alberta had been equally criticized for not approaching COVID-19 as an airborne virus. However, officers in provinces like Manitoba spoke about making changes to their COVID-19 methods in spring 2021  to incorporate acknowledging airborne transmission. 

In latest months, some hospitals in Ontario, Manitoba, British Columbia and Atlantic provinces have had to shutter their emergency departments or cut back ER hours due to the ongoing results of the pandemic and staffing shortages, exacerbating delays in an already-overwhelmed health-care system.

For Canada, the subsequent steps contain figuring out how to stay with COVID– and the most necessary issue is acknowledging that COVID-19 is airborne and adjusting insurance policies accordingly, mentioned Furness.

“COVID is airborne and is a systemic disease,” he mentioned. “Until we’re able to say that, we can’t expect the field of medicine to take long-COVID seriously.”

Until air quality control are carried out extra significantly with strict public coverage modifications, together with necessary improved air flow, “we’re not going to win,” mentioned Furness. 

Currently,the Public Health Agency of Canadahas suggestions onindoor air flow and gives steering, however doesn’t mandate requirements on air flow. 

Ventilation requirements in faculties proceed to be a dialogue throughout the nation. In B.C., the province really helpful that faculties keep their air flow programs and open home windows, however mentioned transportable HEPA filters had been “not necessary.”

However in Ontario, the province has offered greater than 49,000 filters for faculties and child-care settings, indicating completely different approaches relying on the jurisdiction.

The primary objective must be addressing the wider system points with hospitals and well being care in Canada, as these issues will worsen any COVID-19 wave and create worse outcomes for the inhabitants basically, mentioned Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious illness doctor with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont.


As of Oct. 17, about 80 per cent of Canada’s inhabitants has had a major sequence of a COVID-19 vaccine, however booster dose charges are far beneath that. About 17 per cent of the inhabitants has had a booster dose in the final six months. 

“If I’m talking with people who have no scientific or clinical background…they will say [COVID] is like the flu….so why do I have to go get vaccinated again?” mentioned Horacio Bach, a medical assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of British Columbia.

Having a inhabitants that’s not taking over booster photographs, particularly the bivalent vaccine that particularly targets Omicron, leaves many individuals open to reinfection and the risk of long-COVID, mentioned Bach.

“We’ve seen a lot of new variants recently, it’s hard to follow them. Those variants can escape the immune system…and continue to infect,” he mentioned. 

One examine estimates that just about 30 per cent of the inhabitants was contaminated throughout an Omicron wave in early 2022, and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization advises that a person waits at the least three months after an an infection to obtain the booster shot. 

The individuals who want booster photographs the most are these at excessive threat and older folks, mentioned Chakrabarti.

Focusing sources on individuals who have a larger threat of changing into hospitalized or dying must be the precedence when it comes to testing and being focused for the booster photographs, he mentioned. 

Canada wants to strategy the WHO’s insurance policies with a “different perspective” than it might have two years in the past, due to its immunized inhabitants, he added.

“COVID is still an issue and I’m still seeing patients face-to-face…and it’s different [compared to 2020],” he mentioned. In 2020, if he noticed a affected person over 85 with COVID-19 it was thought-about a dying sentence. But with the widespread vaccination, he’s been completely happy to see older folks find a way to recuperate at dwelling. “That context is important- look at what’s actually happening in the clinical scenario,” he mentioned. 


The solely safety accessible aside from vaccines are masks, mentioned Bach.

In analysis revealed in January 2022, Bach and different researchers discovered that surgical and N95 masks had been up to 95 per cent efficient at lowering viral particles that go via the masks layers.

And with the upcoming chilly climate that may drive folks into extra indoor settings, masks use might be a simple barrier in opposition to an infection, mentioned Bach. But he acknowledges it’ll doubtless be very tough to persuade folks to put masks again on after masks mandates have been lifted.

Last week, Ontario’s prime physician Dr. Kieran Moore warned he’ll make extra suggestions on masking as a “difficult winter” is forward when it comes to COVID-19. 

“Now we are going through the cold weather and all the events will be indoors, and nobody will use masks,” mentioned Bach.

Schools are incubators for COVID-19, and with out masking necessities there both, the subsequent few months may go badly, he defined.

Communication is one among the most necessary components that the WHO has listed, and there are some shifts the authorities may take to enhance belief, mentioned Chakrabarti.

More clear messaging, from media and the authorities about why the bivalent vaccine is useful and needed will help higher put together Canada for the fall and winter, added Bach. Especially as latest information has proven how long-COVID can affect folks and hospital programs. 

“The government, I think they need to implement a way to communicate directly…just saying ‘get the bivalent’ is not helping. You have to explain further,” he mentioned.


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