A year of pandemic | COVID-19 “facts,” one year later

A re-reading of some of the information published at the start of the COVID-19 health crisis gives the impression of entering a parallel world where the floor meets the ceiling, and vice versa. From drs HoracioArruda to the World Health Organization, many experts and organizations provided guidelines that were later canceled. Here is a set of beliefs that are getting poorly aged.


Nicholas PiropNicholas Pirop
Journalism

Do not wear the mask!

If wearing a face covering becomes a second nature for billions of people around the world, it was very different at the start of the epidemic, when health authorities, including those in Quebec, recommended that it not be worn. On March 18, 2020, the Canadian press published the headline: “The D.s Aruda requests that masks not be used for preventive purposes. ”

Ds Wearing a mask, Aruda noted, means “putting on your hand a lot.” [au visage] To adjust the mask and pollute ourselves. The mask is for the health system where there are protocols for putting it on and taking it off. “

Pour Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professeure à l’École de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal (ESPUM), il aurait fallu bousculer davantage les habitudes de la population, et imposer le port du masque beaucoup plus tôt l’an dernier. « Dans une crise, il faut imposer des mesures strictes, car des vies sont en jeu », dit-elle.

Benoit Barbeau, virologue à l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), note quant à lui que les données disponibles à cette époque n’étaient pas claires. « Moi, j’étais hésitant [à recommander le port du masque]. I admit, we didn’t have the data. Today, we realize it was a little silly, the evidence itself was there. Over the summer I was convinced. Now we know it works, we won’t hesitate. “

Quebec wasn’t the only place banned from wearing masks. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that a mask be worn in public places on June 5, 2020.

When the world was afraid of polluted surfaces

Spring 2020 might have been the only time in history when millions of people washed the things they just bought at the grocery store with disinfectants. Afraid of the studies showing that the new coronavirus can survive on surfaces, we played it safe with a dash of post-apocalyptic paranoia. After that, it gradually became clear that the main route of transmission of COVID-19 infection was not through an infected surface, but through the respiratory system. “No study has been able to link the presence of a virus on a surface contaminated with infection, and it has never been proven that viruses on a surface have the potential to infect a person, among others because research has since looked at other issues,” notes UC Davis.

Glove Rush

Wearing surgical gloves was seen as a way to protect yourself from COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic. “However, no study has shown that wearing such gloves reduces the risk of infection,” notes UC Davis.

Benoit Barbeau, a virologist at UQAM, points out that the use of gloves coincided with the time when contaminated surfaces were believed to have played a role in the epidemic. “People did not realize that between washing your hands or wearing gloves is one of the same things. When we wear gloves, we think that we have a little better protection, as if the virus could enter through our skin. If you wear gloves for a long time, you should wash them, as you do. With washing your hands, so there are no advantages. ”

Who: Keep traveling!

Many may have forgotten it, but at the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, the World Health Organization advised against implementing restrictions on the movement of people and trade in countries affected by the disease.

The World Health Organization wrote on February 29, 2020: “Travel measures that significantly interfere with international traffic can only be justified at the start of the pandemic, because they can save time, even a few days, to implement rapid and effective preparedness measures.” Restrictions should be based on a careful assessment of risks, be proportional to the risks to public health, be of short duration, and be reviewed regularly as the situation evolves. “

By that time, there were already more than 80,000 cases and nearly 2,700 deaths in more than twenty countries. The European Commission did not want to close its internal borders. Company spokesman Adalbert Janz said: “At the moment, our recommendation to member states does not include re-imposing internal border controls.”

In mid-March, these rules were no longer in effect, and European countries soon closed their borders. Canada recommended avoiding non-essential travel on March 13, 2020.

Democratic countries are better prepared

The use of the severe quarantine imposed by the Chinese government at the beginning of the epidemic, as well as the closure of companies and schools, as well as the travel ban in China, surprised Western researchers. They saw him as an authoritarian response to the COVID-19 problem.

In an article titled “Why are Democracies Better at Fighting Epidemics,” Ariana Berengott, director of programs, partnerships, and strategic planning at the Bin Biden Center for Diplomacy, writes in the magazine Atlantic Ocean In February 2020, high hopes are pinned that Western countries will do better than China in this regard.

“After the spread of cases in South Korea, Japan and Italy in recent days, officials are thinking about how to respond, and the ability of democracies to deal with COVID-19 will soon be tested,” she wrote. But citizens of democracies can expect a higher level of frankness and accountability from their governments. “

A year later, we see that democracies do not have a special advantage in this pandemic. In fact, the countries that took the most drastic moves in early 2020, such as New Zealand and Australia, are achieving far better outcomes in terms of contagion, death and disease negative economic impacts than those that have been slow to act in order to spare the effects on their economy.

Collective immunity is a desirable method

Herd immunity – resistance to the virus after it was spreading freely among the population, while trying to protect the most vulnerable – some researchers considered it a desirable method, especially in the United Kingdom and Sweden.

One problem with this approach is that it involves overwhelming the health care system with sick patients, in addition to causing the death toll to rise. In April 2020, epidemiologist Gideon Meierwitz-Katz wrote that the herd immunity model applied to Australia “will result in between 43,000 to 100,000 deaths”. The epidemic has killed 909 people in Australia so far.

“To some, herd immunity may seem idyllic, but it forces us to sacrifice the most vulnerable in huge numbers on the altar of the economy,” wrote Myrowitz-Katz. I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I’d rather stay home a few more months, and still be able to see my parents next year. “

When we were afraid for Africa

At the start of the health crisis, all eyes were on Africa. With cities crowded and underfunded health networks crowded, it seemed like a matter of time before disease wreaked havoc there. In April 2020, Imperial College London estimated the death toll from COVID-19 on the African continent at nearly 300,000.

Roughly a year later, we see that Africa as a whole has not experienced the predicted crisis. South Africa was the worst-affected country, with nearly 1.5 million infections and more than 48,000 deaths.

Felix Antoine Verono, COVID-19 Coordinator at Canadian Charities and Former Regional Delegate in West Africa for the Ebola Response to Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative, notes that “death rates have remained relatively low” in Africa compared to other organizations. Regions of the world.

“The consensus is that demographics may matter a lot,” he says. The average lifespan of African countries is nearly 20 years, or about half the average life span in Quebec. “

Verono says a lot of research is being done to identify other factors. The decision to quickly restrict access to the Territory on international flights may have helped, as have community health systems, which have a long history of preventing infectious diseases. “

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