“Such a joy to connect with Albertans during Canada’s first major event after the pandemic,” says the caption. Its choice of wording – “after the pandemic” – worries health experts who say it wrongly implies that the coronavirus is no longer a cause for concern.
“I’m worried about the extent to which this video really invites a full return to normal … this idea that the pandemic is over, she’s gone, we don’t have to worry about anything is just wrong. It’s just scientifically false, ”said Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health, Law and Policy at the University of Alberta.
Over the past few weeks, Alberta’s R-value and COVID-19 positivity rate has increased. On Thursday, the province reported an increase in active cases for the first time since May.
Although he understands the desire for a return to normalcy, Caulfield said he believes there will be more of this “dogmatic” political message in the future.
“Governments around the world are trying to win; political opponents try to emphasize the idea that it was a failure. And what’s going to be lost… is the real science, the real evidence, ”he said.
“It further politicizes all of our efforts to fight the pandemic. “
Dr Gabriel Fabreau, assistant professor of general internal medicine at the University of Calgary, said he and his colleagues were holding their breath to see if cases increased after the Calgary Stampede, the first major event held in Canada since the start. of the pandemic. The Stampede ended on Sunday.
Frankly, I don’t know how much more we can take.– Dr. Gabriel Fabreau
“Telling people it’s over when it’s not over yet risks reducing precautions. People who aren’t careful, people who maybe get the message that they don’t need to go for a second dose, and in this case, the general population at risk of a variant coming back a lot. more transmissible, ”said Fabreau.
Of particular concern to Fabreau is the proportion of the Alberta population with at least one dose has somewhat plateaued. On Sunday, the province saw the fewest first doses given since February, when access to vaccines was scarce.
“Alberta and Saskatchewan have the lowest immunization rates in the country. And we know the delta variant has become dominant in Calgary, ”said Fabreau.
“The Netherlands, or the United Kingdom, or Israel, which all had [reopened] and had a similar message… then had U-shaped case curves that showed cases skyrocketing in their younger population and then had to reimpose restrictions. “
Other countries indicate reasons for caution
COVID-19 cases were at their lowest in the Netherlands when the country reopened in June, and vaccination rates were comparable to those in Alberta. In early July, infections jumped 500% in one week; most cases involved juveniles and were the highly transmissible delta variant.
One concert hall saw more than one in 20 attendees, or 1,000 people, test positive after an outdoor concert, according to local media. The concert, much like the Stampede’s concert tent in Nashville North, required visitors to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter.
Fabreau said his biggest concerns were with the mental health and well-being of his colleagues in the healthcare industry.
“If we were to see a fourth wave, I – I can’t imagine the negative impact it’s going to have on our people and our health care system. And, you know, frankly, I just don’t know how much more we can take, ”he said.
It’s great to celebrate victories, said Caulfield, as is Canada’s overall success in immunization efforts compared to many parts of the world.
“But I think the message should leave open the possibility that there is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.
“What I would like to see is a coupling of these positive messages with what we need to do in the future. So, ‘Isn’t that fantastic where we’re at right now, Alberta? Let’s make it even better and make sure we all get vaccinated. ‘ “