Opinion

The Manitoba government is playing 'Roussin Roulette' with our most vulnerable

I’m asking Dr. Roussin to follow the WHO’s advice and end the lockdowns. If Dr. Roussin doesn’t believe in a focused approach, we need to know why.

Shea Ritchie Winnipeg
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We are in the midst of a global pandemic. Most of us are terrified, worried about the potential impact on our family and friends.

In March, at the start of the pandemic, the country quickly rallied around widespread business and school lockdowns. We knew the impact to our businesses and livelihoods would be significant, but we acted quickly because this was a new virus and our medical professionals needed time to learn what we were facing.

Mass lockdowns are useful during a state of emergency for two reasons: 1) To save our medical system from catastrophic failure (“Flatten The Curve”), and 2) Give us time to learn who is at high risk and how we can protect them.

The Spanish Flu was especially harmful for younger adults as compared to seniors and the CDC estimates 500 million were infected and 50 million died. If COVID was as severe, a third of our population could become infected and 260 million could die. The initial reports were scary and we couldn’t take a chance to let the virus spread unchecked with so many lives hanging in the balance.

Since our first lockdown in March, we've kept our hospitals safe from overcrowding and we have a worldwide consensus on the various degrees of risk by age demographics and preexisting conditions.

COVID doesn't affect people equally. Our most vulnerable have an approximately 1000 times greater risk of dying from COVID than the youngest, lowest risk generation based on research at the CDC. In fact, half of all people who die are 79 years of age or older. Only 1% of all COVID deaths account for people under 50. Young children should be more concerned with the seasonal Flu compared to COVID: “The risk of complications for healthy children is higher for flu compared to COVID-19.”

General lockdowns come with very high costs. In addition to livelihoods and businesses destroyed, lockdowns kill people too. In fact, WHO envoy, Dr. Nabarro estimates that 130 million people will die next year from our excessive lockdowns. That's 7 times more people dying from excessive lockdowns than from COVID if everyone on earth was infected (based on the WHO’s published fatality rate of 0.23%).

We need to lift the general lockdowns and instead focus our efforts and resources to protect our most vulnerable until a vaccine or general immunity lowers their risk. We have had 8 months to boost our medical resources and as of Friday Oct 16th, Manitoba had 25 COVID patients compared to 27 hospitals. We don’t need to lock down society more. COVID has an official 99.77% survival rate. We can cancel our state of emergency until a threat to our medical system returns. All of the low risk demographics can return to a normal lifestyle while the higher risk seniors (and people with specific health conditions) need to be isolated immediately.

Dr. Roussin routinely reacts to news of growing “new cases” by adding more regulations. We need to be proactive and apply our updated science to make sure our elders are protected before they get infected. Imposing restrictions on the general public after the elderly become infected isn’t helping. If our high risk individuals are safe, new cases in the low risk populations shouldn’t be a problem. Because seniors are still mixing with the general public and case numbers have gone up since March, our high risk demographics are in more danger now. If we don’t update our approach, all of our most vulnerable will predictably get infected.

If we lift the general lockdown, more people will be able to return to work. If the government didn't need to pay those with the lowest risk not to work, our government would be able to focus our limited resources on those who need the most protection. Our elders need our help and they deserve it.

Our government needs to follow the scientific advice given by other respected international agencies like the WHO and CDC. We need to focus our strategy on what works for our communities and stop wasting efforts on lockdowns that are going to kill more people than COVID ever could.

The Winnipeg Free Press and Winnipeg Sun recently published articles questioning our neglectful and outdated plan (Citation 7 and Citation 8) but Dr. Roussin isn’t addressing our community’s needs. I feel so strongly about getting the right plan in place, I’m asking Dr. Roussin to follow the WHO’s advice and end the lockdowns. If Dr. Roussin doesn’t believe in a focused approach, we need to know why.

Let's not play Roussin Roulette with our most vulnerable.

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