Columnist Robert Vairo’s ‘That’s What I’m Thinking’

What’s Next?

Robert Vairo

I wonder, and worry about what comes next. We have been shut down and shut out approaching three months and finally some parts of the economy are coming back to life. Some provinces have clearly done better than others in ‘flattening the curve’, but so far very few regions and countries have actually declared the virus ‘dead’.

New Zealand has, so has Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. It will never be dead or completely eradicated. Under control, is a more realistic phrase. There will always be new cases, until there is an effective vaccine. And there is hope. Canada’s Dalhousie University as you know is approved for first clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccine. But it’s in cooperation with a government controlled Chinese firm. Not at all to my liking. The manufacturer is CanSino Biologics Inc., a Chinese vaccine company.

“The intellectual property rights for the vaccine will stay in Chinese hands” according to the Canadian Center for Vaccinology. It may work. If it does, it would be a very proud moment for Canada. Although I’m not sure how many Canadians will want a China made vaccine. How many of us trust authoritarian China today. There’s also US Moderna labs partnering with a Swiss group, and OXFORD U. is with a Montana firm, all in search of THE vaccine. So there is a lot of hope. But hope needs an audacious and robust plan of action.

This has been a horrific shock. After all this suffering, isolation, strained and broken relations, conjugal violence, unemployment, and a world economy on its knees, this had better not happen again, but it might.

Many, including Dr Tony Fauci are predicting a resurgence of the virus this autumn. Developing countries South Africa, and Brazil, combined populations of 270 million, are just starting to see the virus appear. The Canada US border may be reopened too soon. So something like this could happen again in Canada. It may be worse. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says “Combined with the usual autumn influenza, the intensity of both.

There are issues we must confront now to prevent it. For example, some scientists are fearful of our over sanitizing. All our attempts against COVID-19 by cleaning, sanitizing, spraying city sidewalks, buses etc. could lead to a super bug resistant to alcohol. Scientists are already talking about diseases whose names even my computer spell check can’t get right. Sanitizers may not work or be as effective the next time.

And then there is drug resistance. Bacteria change and evolve so that a drug we once knew and saved us, can no longer perform miracles.

We can not afford to go through this again. Canada’s money has been spent. An RBC newsletter says we have “no more fire power” if we are hit again. So what’s the solution? The best way to stop a pandemic is to never let it start. We can’t enforce good hygiene in a Wuhan wet market. But we can look at home. This virus exposed Canada’s weak chief physician who is re-active and not pro active, and exposed weak top doctors in Quebec and Ontario. It exposed woeful inadequacies in our health care system, the worst being nursing homes, where our seniors led the number of fatalities across the country. This must not happen again. There is just too much pain.

Is the answer global cooperation? The WHO is racked with politics and can’t be trusted. Neither can the world’s two super powers, the US and China. Canada must first become as self-sufficient as possible in as many areas as possible. Mr. Trudeau, please stop these daily media managed appearances and return to Parliament. We must absolutely develop our own supply chain in health, food, and energy and stop relying on others. This is a health care crisis. We absolutely must focus and spend in our health care system and health care workers.
Remove the layers of crippling health department bureaucracy that prevent provinces like Quebec and Ontario from responding swiftly and effectively.

I’ve been reading a Dr. Jim Yong Kim a British physician and anthropologist with a list of credentials the length of a gurney. He suggests the five-pronged “weapons” we have been using. We all know them by now. Social distancing, contact tracing, testing, isolation, and treatment. Says Dr. Kim, “Do this over and over and you will defeat the virus”. CONTACT TRACING jumped out at me. It has to be done without violating our privacy rights, especially if using a smart phone app. It’s very labour intensive and involves a lot of detective work.

BC got it. It ramped it up early, increased its staff six-fold, and now attributes CONTACT TRACING as one of the main reasons it has been
able to control this virus. We have to be on the offensive for the next enemy. We must do our part. Continue distancing, hand
washing, masks. And our governments must rectify health care, secure our supply chains, reduce layers of bureaucracy. We will then have the confidence as Canadians to attack the next wave, or new virus, quicker and more efficiently, and save precious Canadian lives.

That’s what I’m thinking