Ontarians would struggle if a fourth wave of COVID-19 were to strike, which could lead to a “fundamental point of division in our society,” the province’s science table co-chair said.
Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, professor and dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, recently spoke at an online academic event where he answered questions on everything from his take on the best and worst of the pandemic – vaccine efforts and school closures, respectively – going forward.
“It really depends on how we keep increasing immunization and how we relax public health measures,” he said when asked what was to come.
If these things are done right, “we can look at an increasingly normal fall” where schools are open, holiday shopping is fun, and “where the idea of getting together with loved ones isn’t something. dangerous and risky ”.
However, he added, “If we hesitate about vaccination, if we slack off wildly and without thinking, or quickly and without thinking, you might see a fourth wave. And I don’t know what the fourth wave would bring, but I think it will bring a point of division fundamentally in our society where a number of people will want to see the pandemic controlled, and a number of people will say: “I can’t do it again.
“I think that would be a bad place to be,” Brown added, “because it will probably end up being the worst of both worlds, rather than a choice one way or the other. “
Ontario reported 218 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the highest daily tally in three weeks and the first time the figure has exceeded 200 since July 8, even as the province vaccinates thousands more Ontarians each day.
Meanwhile, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, COVID-19’s reproduction rate has risen to 0.97, which is equivalent to levels at the end of April. The rate has been rising steadily since mid-July.
The U of T event, held in mid-July and billed as ‘one-on-one with Steini’, also saw Brown praise the province’s science table, which is made up of 150 experts from across Ontario who continue to volunteer their time – some coming out of operating rooms still in their gowns to attend meetings.
Brown said that while there may be practical and logical arguments in favor of vaccine passports, there is not yet scientific evidence to justify their use, and that they also raise questions of fairness.
Premier Doug Ford has already ruled out mandatory vaccinations for workplaces or to access services.
Asked about the province’s biggest achievement and misstep during the pandemic, Brown said he was happiest with the rollout of vaccinations, starting with the elderly and their caregivers, then focusing on hot spots.
“It was a big step forward and something about fairness,” he said.
However, he added, it has been “incredibly difficult” to balance the many risks associated with the pandemic. “I am very disappointed that we have not been able to open the schools and keep them open,” he said.
He added that he believes better ventilation in schools will be a major concern when students return to class in September.
The July 14 event was billed as a discussion that would examine ‘how we could have done better with our COVID-19 response, the inevitable strain on our healthcare system, the disproportionate impact on marginalized groups, issues related to collecting data based on race. , and the way forward for better days ahead.
On Wednesday, the provincial government announced $ 324 million in funding to help close the anticipated backlog of surgeries and medical procedures.
With files from Rob Ferguson