Dorothy Dobbie posing for a picture with certificates in the background
Dorothy Dobbie

Issues in the news


For many, COVID-19 is already a blurred memory, its isolation and strangeness a thing of the past. Many of these folks were the fortunate who went to work every day, perhaps as a grocery store clerk or a bus driver, or a snow plough driver. They were the essential workers and while masks were a constant irritation for those working inside, at least they got to come in contact with their fellow human beings. Recovery for these folks is easier from that perspective. Normalcy slips back into place more quickly.

For others, the aftermath of COVID-19 is still alive and terrifying as they try to reassemble the broken lives that were lost when they were shut off from day-to-day contact with others, made to feel guilty for wanting to take a walk in the park, separated from loved ones, some of them perhaps dying alone in hospital because you could not come to their side.

These wounds will not heal soon.

And what about the children? Many grew to school age with very little contact with other kids. Teenagers were cut off from friends just when they needed them most. University students studied alone in their bedrooms, just as they emerged into adulthood. Depression among kids is a concern.

What of the companies that lost all their business and had to shut down? What of the countless workers who lost their jobs and found a new uselessness in parents’ basements drawing a comfortable $2,000 a month to stay home? How does that promote normal development and entry into the workforce? What about the companies that desperately tried to keep their people and borrowed the CERB money and now, barely a year after the lockdown ended, were forced to repay in January 24 or double their debt? How could they recover in one year after such devastating losses? Twenty percent of them are in trouble and some will close as a result.

What about lost jobs by folks who could ne be vaccinated or were afraid to be vaccinated? What about the lost holidays as people were forced to stay home from much needed vacations? How about those who required the solace of church and the coming together of like-minded people to find communion, but were denied that right? What about those who could not get medical help while cancer was eating away at them?

The list is endless of those who were hurt, maimed, and irreparably broken by the shutdowns that occurred when COVID-19 panic set in.

And it was panic. I was in Ottawa the day Trudeau pulled the plug in Canada. One moment all was well: we were at a cocktail party laughingly kicking heels to avoid infections. An hour later Trump shut down foreign flights coming to America. My granddaughter was in Vietnam. I phoned her father and said, “Get her out. Canada will probably follow the US and shut down incoming Canadian flights.” (They did indeed do this, although we got our girl home in time.)

Despite this, even I was not prepared for the shutting down of Parliament that very next morning. Waiting in the Ottawa lounge as I headed for Winnipeg, I noticed the room was full of MPs. They had all been summarily sent home. How can you shut down Parliament if there is a crisis? Isn’t this just exactly where MPs should be at a time like that? What about democracy?

I won’t continue to belabour the point or go on about how confusion ruled for weeks. About how the government had recently discarded a whole storehouse of personal protection equipment. About how the work of the post SARS committee they had appointed to prepare a plan to deal with a future pandemic was thrown out the window with the personal protection goods.

But how can we fail to note that the largest number of fatalities occurred early in group living populations of vulnerable adults – particularly seniors. One of the ignored Committee recommendations was that the first step should be the quarantine of these homes including the workers until measures for the protection of all were implemented. Instead, governments shut down everyone and let the workers in the seniors home come and go, infecting and reinfecting those inside. This was a massive tragedy.

There were so many deficiencies in the handling of this pandemic. A huge one was and continues to be our hospitals’ ability to handle infections. In Canada, it is estimated that every year there are at least 220,000 cases of hospital-related infections and that 8,000 people die of an infection contracted during their stay. The incidence during an infectious disease outbreak skyrockets!

When COVID-19 started, it was sensibly noted that there were three steps to be followed: transmission prevention, prophylactic treatment, and cure. We failed at all three. Firstly, lockdowns did not prevent transmission. Fully 60 percent or more of the population had to go to work and most of the others had to leave home to shop or attend to a myriad of duties. Masks and handwashing may have helped but were largely ineffective; masks leaked from sides and at eye level and some people with asthma just couldn’t wear them for more than a few minutes. Effective treatment options were not on the table till near the end of the pandemic and are still being explored. Vaccinations apparently mitigated symptoms. But they did not prevent infections. And it’s a virus. There is no known cure for viral infections.

So what, you say? We did the best we could. I say, no we did not, and we are still not doing the best that we can. Globally, governments should be collaborating on a strategy for the next event. We need to be looking very critically at several issues as follows:

  1. Do quarantines work in the short term? How long? What are the negative effects of longer-term shutdowns? If a virus has no vectors, what happens? If everything was shut down, what would happen to the virus? Would it become stronger to survive? Like every living thing, a virus wants to prosper – does its need to kill hosts diminish as it finds more hosts and better still, keeps them alive to reinfect??
  2. How is the virus transmitted? Is it airborne, contact spread, or is there some other force at work as in the instance of isolated plants that can communicate? If airborne, how long is the virus viable in the air, how long does it persist before falling to earth? Can it be revived upon some sort of stimulus? If airborne, is there something that can break it down in the air as soap can break a virus down on contact?
  3. Are some people immune? And if so, why? Are some more susceptible. Some reports have indicated that obese people were at more risk of death. Why? Is there a way to promote immunity or resistance aside from vaccinations?
  4. Do vaccines really work? If the evidence doesn’t support that they do much more than reduce the risk of death, shouldn’t we be looking for other approaches? What are side effects of the vaccines being used. How serious are they and what is the negative incidence?

These are just some of the burning questions we all need to be asking and discussing. If doubt is raised in one quarter shutting down debate on the question does little to solve the problem. People should be urged to come forward with their concerns and those concerns should be listened to earnestly and taken seriously.

Finally, there is the issue of communication, which was terrifying and panic causing among the population. The heritage media took glee in painting the news of the pandemic in its most dire light. They interviewed only the gloom and doom people, shutting down voices that did not reflect what they considered the prevailing school of thought. This was not helpful. Many isolated people fell into deep depression as a result.

Most disturbing was the absolute shutting down of dissenting voices of those who disagreed with the remedies being imposed. This has had and continues to have a deleterious impact on our democracy. And that may be the most egregious harm of all.

@ 2024 Pegasus Publications Inc.