Fall is here with all its colours, the rains, the pumpkins and shorter days. Usually this is the time to book flights to warmer destinations for the winter. Instead I’m looking at discounts for ski passes and winter tires for the car.
A segment in the CBC evening news caught my eye the other day. It raised the question if we are focusing on the wrong kind of testing here in Canada. I wanted to know what Camp, my reliable drinking companion, thinks about that.
‘The blanket policies, like shut downs, masks and restrictions, are reactions, not strategies and yes, they will lower transmission rates of the virus but at what cost. What we really need is a cheap quick test that people can do at home,’ he said.
‘Exactly. Like the one proposed by Harvard epidemiologist Michael Mina to CBC reporter Terrence McKenna back in the spring. A cheap and simple test that can determine if someone is positive even if they don’t show symptoms. A test that can be done at home every second or third day. If it shows up positive we can isolate and thereby halt the spread. Instead, the testing is focused on sick people who most likely have been positive and contagious for several days before they had symptoms.’
‘Yes, that would also put the responsibility back on the people to halt the spread of the virus instead of the politicians and public health officials to make decisions for us. I think a lot of that has to do with power and control. The two constant pillars on which politicians rely on.’
‘I think you’re right Camp, unlike when public policy relies on advice, information and compliance, here, more and more we have rules and dogmas, protocols and even enforcement and punishments.’
‘Nothing to fear but fear itself,’ the famous quote by Franklin Roosevelt just about sums up my response to the covid-19,’ Camp said. ‘As the average age of the infected person goes down the death rate is also lower, meaning that death is a very unlikely outcome.’
‘While we wait for a vaccine, better treatments and quick tests, tracing, masking and distancing measures will suppress the spread of the virus but not halt it. I believe this novel virus will be with us for a long time. Will we ever get back to stadiums and concert halls?’
‘Only when the spectre of transmissions has been banned by either quick tests, vaccines and/or immunity and a combination of all that,’ Camp said. ‘We need immunity testing for anyone but here in B.C. we can’t even get a Covid test unless we’re sick and by that time we’ve already been positive and potential spreaders for days. We now have 1700 active cases in BC, 4300 people in self-isolation and 12’000 cases all together. Consider that B.C. has a population of 5’072’000, meaning 5’060’000 people are living in dread of the spread. The current global mortality rate is 0.27 percent, 0.05 for those under 70, according to a Metastudy by Stanford University and published by the WHO.’
‘Interesting,’ I said, ‘a lot lower than initially feared. On another note, here at home the NDP wants a five-year mandate, therefore a snap election in the midst of an economic and health crisis. Did you vote yet?’
‘Yes I did, reluctantly,’ Camp said.
‘It will be a very civilized election compared to what’s coming at us in the US.’
We both finished our beers. ‘Last night Clare and I watched an awesome documentary by David Attenborough, I said. ‘At 93 he has given us a witness statement about the sorry state of the world’s eco-system and also how we can reverse the current path to certain disaster. All we need is the will to change since we already have the tools and the knowledge. It’s called: A Life on our Planet, probably the most important documentary of our times by the most qualified naturalist and presenter.’
I looked around for our server but Rosie was busy chatting at the bar. I held up two fingers for her to see. It’s not like there are a lot of customers here these days. Rosie finally exchanged our empties and Camp had to ask: ‘How are you making ends meet these days Rosie.’
‘I’m doing better than before the virus. I got CERB and now EI and I work here a couple of afternoons which is all I want otherwise it comes off my EI payments and I also got rent rebate until the end of September, thanks to my landlord.’
‘It’s going to be long winter,’ Camp said. ‘And you better get your free flu shot.’