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Canada is no longer at the mercy of COVID-19, but new variants may emerge: Experts-National

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As COVID-19 (new coronavirus infection) The pandemic extends into its third year, and many experts have expressed cautious optimism that Canada has passed the blockade and the need for broader security protocols that marked most of the last 24 months.

But after dealing with the unpredictable virus for two years, they also say they should be ready to adapt at any time.

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Hospitalization and other pandemic markers appear to be depressed or stable nationwide, but virologist Jason Kindrachuk says the COVID-19 crisis is unthinkable until it subsides around the world.

“The history of COVID-19 shows that we need to be prepared for the possibility of another variant of concern …” said Kindrachuk, an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba.

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“We don’t want to have to step back five or ten steps because every one of us goes one step further and is hit by what comes next.”


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Jurisdictions began lifting public health measures last month, relaxing collection restrictions, vaccine passports, and mask obligations.

Ontario’s masking policy ends in most indoor locations on March 21, two years after the US-Canada border was closed for non-mandatory trips due to the spread of the original SARS-CoV-2 strain. It is set to do.

Several pandemic anniversaries are approaching this week as many Canadians look back on what happened from March 2020 and changed their perception of the virus from a distant unknown to a real threat in North America.

The arrival of COVID-19 here heralds the arrival of a transformational period interrupted by a stay-at-home order and social distance, and the two-year widespread impact of the virus far exceeds nearly 40,000 deaths nationwide. increase. Probably much higher.

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The World Health Organization declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020. On this day, the NBA shut down the season after the players tested positive. Ontario and Alberta declared a state of emergency on March 17, while British Columbia and Saskatchewan continued the next day.

Since then, advances in science have introduced many COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, limiting the burden on the healthcare system and giving many experts confidence to suggest that future blockades may be avoided. increase.

New variants may diminish progress, but experts say the virus is likely to require significant mutations to encourage the resurgence of stricter March 2020 measures. I am saying.

Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist at the University of Ottawa, is backed by the fact that current vaccines have provided extraordinary protection against serious illness, even when the virus changes, at least up to its current form.

“This is no longer a viral crisis that is merciful to us,” says Deonadan. “We have the tools to live a normal life … but it’s a matter of spending the right amount of money and having the political will to enact those tools accordingly.”


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Deonandan says new variants will “absolutely” emerge as the infection continues in developing countries where vaccines are scarce.

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“Are those variants awkward? I don’t know,” he adds. “But there are vaccine platforms that can produce new formulations very quickly.”

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease expert at McMaster University in Hamilton, said that science has evolved at an “incredible” pace since 2020, but the rapid establishment of delta and omicron waves has been seen. It states that it means creating a variant-specific jab in time. difficult.

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As of Saturday, almost all COVID-19 health restrictions have been lifted across Quebec.

He says other vaccine technologies are underway, but involves efforts to create pancoronavirus injections that can protect against current strains and what comes next.

“The next-generation COVID vaccine in a year or two can be very different … and may complement the current vaccine by preventing infection and helping to be more stable against mutations in this virus. Maybe, “says Chagla.

As deregulations were lifted across Canada, messages from public health and political leaders shifted their focus from containing the virus to learning to live with it.

The change is controversial, and it is speculated that political pressure, not science, is determining how quickly certain jurisdictions abolish measures.


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Experts admit that many Canadians want to return to their pre-pandemic lifestyle, but learn to live with COVID-19 as they move from a pandemic to an endemic stage. Emphasizes that it does not mean that the virus is gone.

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Endemic diseases such as chickenpox and measles continue to be prevalent at low levels, Deonandan said. And vulnerable people remain at risk.

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“In an ideal scenario, the way to live with COVID … is a very low level epidemic, with outbreaks that are not a threat to society, the hospital system, or most individuals,” he said. He added that -19 is still dangerous.For the majority of the population, including the elderly and immunocompromised

Kindrachuk states that systems need to be put in place to prevent vulnerable people from being left behind when society takes precautions.

This means that governments and policy makers must be able to quickly pivot and reintroduce measures such as mandate masking as needed.

“The key to learning to live with a virus is to keep learning about the virus itself and adopt recommendations and protocols for that information,” says Kindrachuk.

“We are not yet at the time of the epidemic of this virus.”


© 2022 The Canadian Press

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