OPINION: It’s time to follow the scientific method — and re-evaluate Canada’s COVID approach

By: Claus Rinner, Donald G. Welsh, Jan Vrbik, John Zwaagstra, Laurent Leduc and Valentina Capurri

Did you know that the average age of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths in 2020 was almost 84 years, while the average age at death in Canada in 2019 was only 76.5 years?

You would think that these Statistics Canada data published on June 1 would give politicians, public health officials, and the media reason to re-examine the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and consider age-specific response measures.

An extraordinary burden is put on children, youths, and young families, who are at virtually no risk from the virus nor contribute significantly to its transmission. And blanket emergency orders are being extended for the nth time, although they have been only marginally effective over the last 15 months.

We are a group of academics with PhDs spanning the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities. What we have in common is a daily practice of critical thinking and following the scientific method.

Science continuously questions previous findings, explores new approaches, and validates or refutes them with evidence. As scientists and scholars, we categorically reject the notion that “the science is settled”. Science never settles.

What we know about COVID-19 has changed over the last 15 months. For example, did you know that asymptomatic transmission is no longer considered relevant for SARS-CoV-2 spread? Yet, why are the implications of the updated science on mask mandates and social distancing not being discussed?

How could one-half of the United States go safely back to the old normal with no mask mandates, distancing rules, or vaccine requirements, while the province of Ontario maintains one of the tightest restrictions of civil liberties in the world? Why are dissenting doctors silenced by their professional organizations and the media, instead of being listened to and cross-examined?

In early 2020, asymptomatic transmission was suspected to pose a risk large enough to respond to the novel coronavirus with unprecedented lockdowns and mobility restrictions. Normally, any important government policy is subject to a cost-benefit analysis – why was this not done for the COVID-19 measures?

Independent Canadian researchers predict a devastating toll: one study estimates that 5-10 times more life is lost due to lockdowns (measured in years of life lost prematurely, i.e. Canadians dying earlier than they would without lockdowns), as compared to any lives that may have been saved, and another study pegs the costs at up to 282 times greater than the benefits.

The collateral damage of lockdowns on our emotional, physical, and mental health is increasingly coming to light. And so is the impact of mobility restrictions on the fabric of society: for more than one year, we have been encouraged to refrain from regular social contact and to perceive those around us as carriers of disease and death. Considering that humans are social beings, this is an unprecedented experiment that might have devastating long-term effects, especially on children.

The United States has been a political battlefield for different approaches to responding to COVID-19. Consider California versus Florida. California imposed full dining closures and stay-at-home mandates in November-December 2020, whereas Florida had lifted most restrictions as early as September 2020.

Despite California’s strict measures, the daily death counts attributed to COVID19 continued to rise during the third wave and peaked in January-February 2021. A similar rise was seen in Florida but the peak level was lower than for California, followed by a steady decrease.

Florida has done remarkably well, health-wise and economically, throughout the pandemic and that with a population more than half that of Canada squeezed into a landmass similar to Nova Scotia.

Source:  torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-its-time-to-follow-the-scientific-method-and-re-evaluate-canadas-covid-approach

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