Does social distancing work or is it completely unnecessary? Can the World Health Organization or our governments be trusted that they are doing what is best for us? What is the situation with long-term care and seniors’ homes? And what is the real deal with the masks and ventilators—are they being overused or needed?
There are many questions and way too many answers—mostly different ones. And, of course, there are inconsistencies, lies and at the end, even more questions.
When it comes to social distancing, there are both supporters and opponents and not just among the public but also within the experts. One of those who doubt the relevance of physical distancing is Josef Buttigieg from the University of Regina, who specializes in neurobiology and stem cell physiology. In his April 2 post on Facebook Buttigieg speaks about the importance of antibody tests mostly for the reason that “the outcome of this test is going to show that the vast majority of the population has already had the virus, meaning that social isolation is 1) not necessary and 2) didn’t work as well as we thought it would.” Meanwhile, other experts claim that herd immunity is not evidence based. According to a scientific brief the World Health Organization warned that the presence of coronavirus antibodies may not protect against future infections. “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.” The question is then: how will a vaccine help?
It is not only the WHO that might appear questionable. Remember, Health Canada gave a time-limited approval of technical-grade ethanol (which contains acetaldehyde, a very possible carcinogen) to be used in hand sanitizers.
We can see clearly the mixed messages how our Canadian government passed a law without democratic process which is horrifying to the majority of Canadians. Prime Minister Trudeau previously said he admires China’s dictatorship. Does that mean he wants to be a dictator himself? As a leader of a democratic country how can he admire China with its human rights violations?
The problem of forcing self-isolation on the healthy, and leaving the elderly unprotected, remains. This practice continues, we are just starting to see an easing of restrictions. In the process they make the claim that if a rise will resurface, everything will be shut down. Statistics are revealing that 79% of COVID-19 deaths are in nursing homes and remainder mainly associated with pre-existing health conditions, healthy people are not dying. Based on the research, seniors are dying with flulike symptoms from pre-existing health conditions and not from COVID-19 as they would have you believe.
The question remains whether we need to wear masks or not. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization all originally agreed that healthy people did not need to wear masks, the United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams wants the CDC to re-evaluate this recommendation since research shows asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19. The advice posted on the CDC website: “If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask).” Wherever the truth might be, it is important to note that not every material is efficiently filtrating coronavirus-sized particles, neither are all materials equally breathable. According to Smart Air test, the top 3 materials for masks balancing breathability and filtration are: paper towel, denim (10oz) and 100% cotton bed sheets (80-120 thread). Paper towels…Go figure?
Besides the need of masks the shortage on ventilators is another popular subject. We hear time and time again that we need more ventilators to treat COVID-19, but do we? If we look at the most famous person to get the virus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he ended up in ICU and had difficulty in breathing but he never went on a ventilator. Why is that, you might ask.
An April 22 study published in JAMA describing the outcomes for 5,700 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in the New York City area reported that “mortality rates for those who received mechanical ventilation in the 18-to-65 and older-than-65 age groups were 76.4% and 97.2%, respectively. Mortality rates for those in the 18-to-65 and older-than-65 age groups who did not receive mechanical ventilation were 19.8% and 26.6%, respectively. There were no deaths in the younger-than-18 age group.”
According to Luciano Gattinoni, a world-renowned Italian intensive care specialist, COVID-19 patients, like those suffering from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), have below-normal levels of oxygen in their blood, which leads to breathing problems. In ARDS cases the lungs lose their elasticity. But in many cases of COVID-19, the lungs remain elastic and people are able to continue breathing for some time despite the low oxygen levels.
This “remarkable combination is almost never seen in severe ARDS,” he writes, adding that patients with normal looking lungs but low oxygen are at risk of lung injury from the ventilators, where pressure from the air damages the thin air sacs that exchange oxygen with the blood. In Gattinoni’s study, only 20% to 30% of patients fully fit the severe ARDS criteria.
Confusion seems to be an underlying message, laced with touch of truth and contradicted by those in authority. Someone or some groups always benefit, the only question remains: at what cost? We should be able to navigate ourselves between all this information and yet the truth remains nebulous, there is so much at stake, who to believe? Well, at least we can discern whose motives we can question, while keeping in mind “that the greatest of lies is the one closest to the truth.”
• Robertson, Paddy. 2020. The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Face Masks for Coronavirus. https://smartairfilters.com/en/blog/best-diy-coronavirus-homemade-mask-material-covid/
• Williams, Megan. 2020. Ventilators are being overused on COVID-19 patients, world-renowned critical care specialist says. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ventilators-covid-overuse-1.5534097