Protect Our Province BC: An open letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan

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      The following open letter to Premier John Horgan and Health Minister Adrian Dix was dated and received January 17 and is reprinted in its entirety below.

      Open Letter to Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan.

      Over the past twenty-two months, our B.C. Public Health Officer and her team have failed to learn important pandemic lessons and are actively repeating the same mistakes over and over.

      Since March 2020, there has been failure to acknowledge the precautionary principle, recommended during the SARS inquiry of 2003, when dealing with a new pathogen. An example of this is the denial of respirators to essential workers, even when supplies were abundant. This has continued despite Dr. Teresa Tam, the WHO, and now the US CDC, acknowledging that COVID-19's aerosol transmission coupled with Omicron's increased contagiousness, requires that we urgently upgrade our masks.

      This is putting lives at risk. How many more Long Term Care facility elders need to die and healthcare workers become infected and develop Long Covid? Now with Omicron, it’s obvious that without addressing ventilation and air filtration, LTC facilities, hospitals, and schools, not to mention many other workplaces, will become sources of contamination. ASHRAE’s pandemic ventilation standards were established in April 2020, yet in B.C. it is as if they do not exist.

      B.C. Public Health has also been pushing the narrative of “learning to live with the virus” and of  COVID becoming “endemic.” Back in July 2021, the promotion of vaccination alone as the tool to end the pandemic led to early relaxation of indoor mask mandates and the false impression that the pandemic was almost over. The resulting Delta wave overwhelmed our Northern Health Authority capacity and led to many deaths as well as additional stress on the frontlines, setting the stage for our now overstretched medical system and exhausted healthcare workers staring down a large Omicron wave.

      B.C. Public Health is now once again doubling down on COVID becoming “endemic” and  Omicron being “mild”. This misleading narrative stands in acute contrast to the accumulating deaths in Quebec and the fact that children (especially those unvaccinated including babies and toddlers) are being hospitalized at record rates. This trend was highlighted in South Africa, then the United Kingdom and now France and the US.

      Omicron is anything but mild. Our hospitals are about to be overrun with significant impact on all acute care patients who will delay seeking care at their own risk for fear of catching Omicron at the hospital. In South Africa excess deaths in the final four weeks of 2021 were 130% of normal, translating to more than 10,000 excess deaths. What will this figure be in BC during this wave?

      We only learned of this new variant at the end of November and there is no evidence that it is milder than Delta for the unvaccinated who in BC represent 17% of the population and most importantly include our most precious members, our 0-4 year olds and 55% of 5-11 year olds who have yet to receive their first vaccine dose. Our Public Health officials insist on calling COVID a respiratory illness when clearly that is only the first phase of this complex syndrome. The concerning part of COVID-19 is the vascular injury which can manifest, often some time later, in damage to multiple organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and brain, causing long-term, life-changing illness for some.

      Patients who develop the, as yet poorly understood, Post Covid syndrome or Long Covid suffer in silence and are classified in the statistics as “recovered”. Yet many are having significant issues with inability to go back to their previous level of functioning. This is a situation that has long term implications for everyone, including BC health services and the economy. 

      Protect our Province BC calls on the Minister of Health and the Premier to facilitate the appointment of an independent multidisciplinary Science Table to oversee and provide up-to-date analysis of COVID-19 as it evolves, using data from well-designed studies and knowledge shared from around the world. Going forward BC’s own data will need to be collected and presented in an unbiased fashion to provide an accurate picture of BC’s pandemic state. 

      The criticism of BC’s pandemic response by many well-respected Canadian and international scientists, such as Professors Jose-Luis Jiminez, Trisha Greenhalgh, Colin Furness, Kimberly Prather and Linsey Marr as well as Drs. David Fisman and Deepti Gurdasani, supports BC establishing an independent Science Table. Following the science regarding SARS-CoV-2 will serve to ensure BC is more successful and can mitigate the disruptive cycle of sharp waves that have been characteristic of the past two years and have affected both individuals’ health and wellness and created uncertainty for businesses.

      Protect Our Province BC is a grassroots group of physicians, nurses, health scientists, health policy specialists and community advocates. We are working together to help people in BC stay safe by sharing accurate information about the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, and advocating for evidence-based policies. Our ultimate goal is to end this pandemic through a vaccines-plus strategy that includes ventilation, better masks, and improved testing and contact tracing.