Has Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, considered the last word in her title? Her responsibility is “health.” This should mean all aspects and dimensions of “health,” rather than fixating all efforts on a singular crusade against one virus, or even several strains of it, to the detriment of public health.
Health involves more than simply reducing one’s chance of dying of Covid.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) explains it: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. … The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
The Alberta Government – in theory, but certainly not in practice – adopts a similar approach, stating that the Chief Medical Officer of Health “provides public health expertise to support health surveillance, population health and disease control initiatives on issues of public health importance.” Note that there are “issues” (plural) of public health importance, not just one issue.
Any family physician will tell you that there is much more to good health than merely avoiding one illness. There is abundant scientific data available telling us that loneliness and isolation are bad for your health; isolation facilitates abuse; contact via zoom and skype are insufficient to sustain healthy relationships; excessive alcohol consumption is bad for your health; staying indoors is bad for your health; lack of exercise is bad for your health; poverty is bad for your health; depression and anxiety are bad for your health; delayed cancer diagnosis is bad for your health; lack of hugs and other physical contact is bad for your health.
By contrast, singing is good for your health; socializing is good for your health; seeing friends in-person is good for your health; playing team sports is good for your health; watching a live performance is good for your health; and watching sports with other people is good for your health.
Dr. Hinshaw ignores the fact that her lockdowns increase public health problems like loneliness, isolation, anxiety, depression, excessive alcohol consumption, eating disorders, drug overdoses, staying indoors, lack of exercise and social interactions being reduced to a two-dimensional computer screen. She makes it difficult (and in some cases illegal) for Albertans to sing, engage with friends in person, hug people, participate in sports, watch live performances on stage, attend a house of worship, and generally enjoy life.
All of us are going to die. Death can therefore only be delayed, not prevented. The appropriate lens through which to evaluate the seriousness of cancer, suicides, car accidents, lightning strikes, heart diseases and viruses is the lens of life expectancy. Publicly available data on Canada’s federal and provincial government websites tell us that Covid has only a negligible impact on years of life lost (YLL).
The median infection survival rate from Covid is 99.77%, and 95% for those over 70. While COVID is more serious than the annual flu, this difference does not justify lockdowns that harm the health of so many people, if you agree with how the WHO defines health.
Covid is real, but fear of Covid is exaggerated. A virus that has only a negligible impact on life expectancy is not something that should dominate, let alone control, our daily lives and how we live them. Dr. Hinshaw and her counterparts in other provinces have failed to protect the vulnerable 10% of Canadians: elderly people already sick with serious health conditions like cancer, heart diseases, and emphysema. For the remaining 90% of Canadians, our chance of dying in a motor vehicle accident is greater than our chance of dying from COVID-19.
Covidphobia is irrational, ignoring the government’s own data and statistics. Yet Covidphobia is promoted daily by Dr. Hinshaw, Premier Jason Kenney and Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, along with a submissive and compliant government-funded media. Stripping people of their human rights and dignity; destroying lives and livelihoods; severely restricting our fundamental Charter freedoms to move, travel, associate, assemble, and worship: Dr. Hinshaw’s measures are clearly dangerous to our health. They harm our well-being.
Why should “population health” be limited to avoiding one virus, especially a virus that has had a negligible impact on population life expectancy? Our media never mention the fact that over 27,000 Albertans die each year, more than 500 per week on average. Every death is sad, regardless of how old (or young) the person was when she or he died. Our media never mention the fact that every year, a disproportionate number of deaths are amongst people in their 70s, 80s and 90s. The year 2020 was not much different from 2019 or previous years, and 2021 and future years will likely be the same. The sadness of each and every death should not delude us into believing we have god-like powers to make everyone live forever.
Dr. Hinshaw should start using and implementing the WHO definition of health. Premier Kenney and his pro-lockdown cheerleader Rachel Notley should stop hurting Albertans with measures that clearly harm public health.
Dr. Hinshaw, Premier Kenney and Ms. Notley, if you are reading this, I beg you: please stop harming the health of Albertans who continue to suffer daily, not on account of any virus, but solely because of your lockdowns.