In Defense of Alberta Covid Policy
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The most usual medical criticism of the Alberta Government has almost certainly been that it was too slow to react to previous waves by implementing restriction designed to prevent the spread of the virus. Conversely economic criticism has been that it has been too slow removing those restrictions. It seems unfortunate that it is receiving criticism from the former quarters as it takes prompt action to take advantage of the fourth wave to bring the endemic to a conclusion.
The ultimate challenge from the start was to get to a level of herd immunity provided by vaccination and/or natural infection. Or simply to get antibodies into enough people so that one individual was unlikely to infect others. The secondary challenge was to reduce the rate of infection to a level that the health system could handle.
It was this secondary challenge that that has proved to be divisive. Before the arrival of effective vaccines, as essential as various measures to slow the spread of Covid were, they had a devastating impact on the economy. And, the more effective these medically necessary measures were, the more economic damage they caused. Hence, governments were reluctant and slow to inflict the economic damage in an attempt to balance the interests of the health system and the economy.
While the immunization program must be judged as being successful in most respects, it has failed in terms of the level of participation. With 25 percent of the Alberta population still unimmunized, it seems that herd immunity is still a way away. Mandating immunization is likely to be counter-productive, as it is likely to result in push back
The other way of getting antibodies into the unimmunized is through the natural process of infection. This suggests advantage to dismantling the various precautions that have been introduced to slow the spread of the virus. Indeed, the situation seems now to have been reversed.
And luckily the now dominant Delta variant has three characteristic that should help with this and perhaps enable the current fourth wave to be the last.
It is more infectious than previous dominant type which means it can be harnessed to close the gap between the current level of antibodies in the population to a level that will provide herd immunity.
While those who have been immunized are not totally immune to the delta, we are told symptoms are generally not serious enough to require hospitalization. There are in turn two benefits to this. The 75 percent immunized that might contract with the new variant will not burden the health system. And at least some of them will continue their normal routines, thereby, helping the spread of the virus.
Further it has also been suggested that the delta variant symptoms are more serious for the unimmunized than the previously prevalent type. This might yet encourage some of vaccination holdouts to help themselves.
If there is a challenge to this, it is the spread of the delta variant in the 25 percent of the population will be so fast and effective that it will challenge the health system. But the benefits of this will be an early end to the pandemic before the regular flu season starts to burden the system.
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