I am writing this as Medical Director of Medipure Pharmaceuticals to provide some of my own perspective to this very unique period in our history.
The WHO declared Covid-19 as a worldwide viral pandemic on March 11, 2020 and in our province (British Columbia) a province wide “state of emergency” was instituted a week later on March 18.
Coronavirus disease is a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. This virus is in the same family as the virus that caused the significant SARS outbreak in 2002-2004.
Throughout our country and province numerous emergency measures were put into place in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. I will not list all the measures and restrictions as these are not only now well-known but also measures that I am proud to say British Columbians have followed quite diligently. As a result, we witnessed a rather speedy “flattening of the virus infection rate curve”. These measures were put into place to slow the transmission of this virus from one host (person) to a new host. During March through May significant increases in the number of people infected with the virus in countries and cities where the population seems to ignore or not respect health leader’s recommendations serve to inforce the importance of social distancing, wearing of masks when necessary and very frequent hand washing or sanitizing. As I write this, unfortunately it would appear that some groups of individuals in our own province are now ignoring or trivializing the above recommendations and we are also experiencing increasing numbers of infected individuals.
As of September 2, 2002, worldwide there has been 25,983,958 confirmed Covid-19cases and 862,568 deaths. The five countries reporting the most cases are (in order) USA, India, Brazil, Russia, and Peru. Canada is 24th after Indonesia and the Phillippines.
The corona virus is quite contagious. To put some numbers on this comment, recent data would suggest that for each infection 1.4 - 3.9 new infections will result. Compare this to our seasonal influenza 1-2.1, Ebola 1.5-2.53 or SARS 1-2.75. These numbers hopefully will enforce respect for the safety measures alluded to above. As we move into the fall, we can expect the numbers to go up and more important than the absolute numbers we hope that the rate of hospital admissions and our ability to care for all will remain manageable.
We have also become aware of the ripple effect of a potential contact. When an individual becomes symptomatic or more importantly Covid-19 test positive then all that individuals recent close contacts are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, removing those individuals from our work force and in some cases this can result in closure or a serious set back of some small businesses.
Apart from the effects this virus has had on the health of those individuals who have been infected there also has been many overall effects on our health care system and the general health of our population. There have been widespread cancellations of electives surgeries and even though the surgeries are “elective” those individuals waiting for surgery are suffering or otherwise affected by the delays. We have also witnessed a reluctance for individuals to seek medical attention out of fear of the hospital, emergency ward, primary care clinics environment. With the question of “can I catch this virus if I seek medical care?” delays in seeking care for emergent conditions results in severe or even fatal consequences. With the safety protocols instituted by our hospitals and primary care clinics no one should hesitate to seek urgent or emergent care.
This pandemic has seriously affected our seniors and in particular those requiring residential care. This group has experienced a unique social isolation and not being able to be visited by family and loved ones has resulted in increased anxiety and depression. Family member are also suffering from not being able to see, help care for and comfort their elder loved ones. The chronic confusion many of these elders live with has only added to the above issues. News reports have also exposed some of the alarming and unacceptable care some care homes are providing.
During this pandemic, we have also seen the evolution of virtual health care and I am sure that this will become a standard in health care delivery in our future. This should however not become the major form of interaction between Physicians and their patients as appropriate face to face consultations and a physical examination will remain vitally important for accurate diagnosis and appropriate care.
We are also in the middle of another global pandemic and this is the Opioid Crisis, and during Covid-19 this crisis has intensified. Over the month of May 2020 Vancouver city recorded the highest number of overdose deaths since this pandemic started. I think that isolation in addition to decreased access to timely intervention played a role in these depressing numbers. As mentioned in previous interviews and upcoming blogs Medipure’s research into producing non-addictive analgesics is timely and exciting.
The race to find a safe and effective vaccine to protect the public from this virus and perhaps other similar viruses has been front and center in our health leader’s weekly Covid updates. We all welcome the development and distribution of such vaccine. This spotlight on medical/therapeutic research helps to highlight the importance of these scientific endeavors. It also focuses on the investment opportunities supporting such research and the companies involved.
Check our website for more updates over the coming weeks.
Dr. John Maynard, B.Sc., M.D.