Two minutes with the Justice Centre
If we had to do it all again and we all knew what we know now, would our response to the COVID-19 pandemic be the same? Would we even call it a pandemic?
After two years of relentless media repetition of government talking points, many Canadians have concluded that Covid has been a huge event, if not a national disaster. Many have a deep fear that they may become infected and die. Covid’s status as a pandemic is widely endorsed.
However, contra the narrative, not that many people have actually had Covid(1) officially. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, as of January 31, 2022, 92 per cent of Canadians have never tested positive for Covid. To put it another way, after two years, only eight Canadians in a hundred have ever ‘had’ – i.e. tested positive with – Covid.
Of the three million Canadians who did verifiably get it(2), only a handful needed to go to hospital (3.9%) and of them only 21,000 over two years – one infected Canadian in 142 – required intensive care.
So where did the stories come from about ‘overwhelmed’ hospitals? The fact is, Canadian hospitals have always been overcrowded and understaffed. The country’s hospitals were in danger of being overwhelmed during the 2017-18 flu epidemic(3).
Obviously, that had nothing to do with Covid and everything to do with the fact that Canada has simply underinvested in hospital beds.
And, comparisons matter. While more than 33,000 have died ‘with Covid’, more than 600,000 people died of all causes during 2020-21, more than half from cancer and various forms of heart disease alone.
Most ‘official’ Canadian Covid sufferers however – more than 2.9 million of us – merely experienced cold or flu-like symptoms and recovered.
This is not even to mention scores of Canadians who had Covid but never tested or who never developed any significant symptoms. The CDC estimates that in America, nearly half(4) of the population of 331 million has already been infected and now has some level of antibody protection.
Ichor Blood Services, a private lab based in Calgary, has not only corroborated these estimates here in Canada with their antibody test results, but have demonstrated that the actual number of people with Covid antibodies may be much higher than we suspect. In the small hamlet of La Crete, Alberta, 1,200 residents signed up for the antibody blood test. The results were significant. The vast majority – 89 per cent – of the unvaccinated population indeed had SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antibodies(5) and therefore a layer of immunity.
Being sick is never pleasant. But neither is it worthy of the widespread fear generated by the official narrative. Bottom line: Most Canadians have had or have been exposed to Covid by now and never felt the need to test. Clearly, it has not been so deadly that politicians can justify shutting down the country, or their significant overreach and infringement of Charter rights to travel, speak, assemble, worship, associate, and even to work and go to school.
Some observers say Covid wasn’t even a pandemic.
Taking note that viruses spread ”in the context of pre-existing social and health conditions,“ one BC Medical Journal(6) writer called it a ”synergistic epidemic.“ ”Syndemic” is a categorization that recognizes that the only way pandemics and epidemics can occur and “get a deep hold on a population, [is] if the public’s social and biological vulnerabilities to infections were reduced, if not eliminated.” In other words, a virus will be more damaging to people suffering from chronic disorders, vulnerable populations ”living in disadvantaged communities,“ and older people. ”Attention,“ added this writer, ”should be focused on a population’s social and medical conditions, which may provide the fuel for the spread of infectious diseases.”
This is precisely what Canada experienced over two years with Covid. Half(7) of all Covid deaths occurred in some kind of Long-Term Care(8), and social marginalization representing an added risk. As Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam asserted in June last year, “…racialized communities and low-income groups in general were likely to continue experiencing higher rates of COVID-19 and severe outcomes in subsequent waves. This is a result of the fundamental inequities that predate the pandemic and continued disproportionate risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure.”(9)
Tam’s report claimed that poor neighbourhoods and those with the ”highest ethno-cultural composition quintile” (sic) had double the Covid mortality rates of neighbourhoods at the other end of the scale.(10)
The debate over pandemic/syndemic is anything but trivial. The Omicron variant appears to be significantly less dangerous than the strains that came before it. Yet until the lightening of measures began after the Freedom Convoy arrived in Ottawa, Canadian administrations, notably those of Ontario and Quebec responded with ever more irksome restrictions, curfews and alarmingly, firings of unvaccinated people and denial to the Covid vaccine-free from accessing church, large stores, schools, universities, movie theatres, restaurants, and gyms.
The Covid vaccine-free have become victims of discrimination. Some polls have suggested that most Canadians think the vaccine-free deserve maltreatment for daring to refuse a medical procedure the government has assured us is safe and effective.
However, if the worst Covid outcomes can be reliably anticipated among the elderly, the sick and the poor, as syndemic theory proposes, and as Dr. Tam argues is actually happening in Canada, pandemic policies that restrict and penalize all Canadians equally make no sense.
When fear takes over, it appears all common sense takes its leave. Maybe we all fear this thing too much. If Covid has come and gone through most of the population without causing a pressing need to seek a test, can we still believe the label of a ‘deadly pandemic?’
(2) First recorded case in Canada 26 Jan 2021.
(7) https://ltc-covid19-tracker.ca/ National Institute on Ageing, Ryerson University
(10) ‘During the first wave, neighbourhoods in Canada in the highest ethno-cultural composition quintile had an age-standardized COVID-19 mortality rate 2 times higher than those in the lowest quintile. Similarly, Canadians living in areas in the lowest income quintile had twice the age-standardized COVID-19 mortality rate compared to Canadians living in areas in the highest quintile. In both analyses, men had much higher mortality rates compared to women.’