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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

We missed two-thirds of the COVID19 deaths

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“The pandemic has exposed many uncomfortable truths about Canadian society, among them, the limits of our healthcare system, tragic flaws in long-term care, our systemic racism, and our inability to protect the most at risk when an infectious threat arrives in our midst. As our multi-faceted study finds, it appears that we failed to notice two-thirds of all those who died of COVID-19 outside of the long-term care sector, most likely in financially precarious, racialized communities. It’s critical that we now work urgently to protect those most at risk with intensive, frequent, and accessible testing, public health outreach and information, and ensuring these communities are among the highest priority recipients for both doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Too many lives are at stake to delay action, as our report raises the possibility that at this moment there may be twice as many people dying than we know.”

Excess All-Cause Mortality During the COVID-19 Epidemic in Canada

How is it possible to miss so many deaths? There are of course multiple reasons, but the one that stands out is a failure to recognize that deaths for other reasons than COVID declined during the pandemic. For instance, when a lot of travel is avoided there is less traffic and thus fewer collisions. There is also the difficulty of recognising symptoms correctly, especially when you not do anything like the number of tests that other countries did/do. But the one that stands out for me is “the country’s slow system for reporting causes of death, [which] left Canada without a crucial warning system to alert officials to the worrisome number of deaths happening outside of long-term care.”

It turns out that other countries are much better at tracking causes of death. They also suffer from the current constant attacks on government bureaucracy as unnecessary, expensive and meddlesome when in fact regulations and their enforcement came into being because the lack of them, which caused issues, like death. As long as the politicians in charge of the system insist that the only policies that they will adopt reduce the size of government and its “burden” on the people then we will be plagued. The recent building collapse in Florida, which so far appears to have killed ten people, has yet to be allocated a determined cause. But at the same time as that investigation is going on you can bet that developers are bleating about the delays of their profits due to the need for inspections and permits on construction and renovation.

A similar problem is evident right now. People are dying due to the heat wave. Some police forces were a bit quicker off the mark of reporting these deaths than others. ‘The province’s chief coroner says there have been 233 sudden deaths during the “heat dome.”’

But that isn’t the real problem. The real problem is that we have known for a certainty that this was going to happen. Anthropogenic climate change due to trapped gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides and methane in the atmosphere due to burning fossil fuels has been an established scientific fact for a long time. Not that you would have noticed that at the time thanks to the oil, gas and coal industries and their tame politicians and mass media companies.

In exactly the same way Public Health and Statistics Canada – and lots of other agencies – have been under constant pressure to cut costs and reduce the “burden of taxation”. The people making the most noise being those who long decided that they weren’t going to pay any tax at all.

So end of my rant. Return to the report in question – which you can download for free as a full report or summary.

“Established by the President of the Royal Society of Canada in April 2020, the RSC Task Force on COVID-19 was mandated to provide evidence-informed perspectives on major societal challenges in response to and recovery from COVID-19. 

“The Task Force established a series of Working Groups to rapidly develop Policy Briefings, with the objective of supporting policy makers with evidence to inform their decisions.

“It is widely assumed that 80 per cent of Canada’s deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among older adult residents of long-term care homes, a proportion double the 40-per-cent average of peer countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). But an indepth analysis of all deaths that have so far been reported across Canada during the pandemic casts doubt on this estimate. It reveals evidence that at least two thirds of the deaths caused by COVID-19 in communities outside of the long-term care sector may have been missed.”

Authors of the Report

Tara J. Moriarty (Chair), Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto

Anna E. Boczula, Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto

Eemaan Kaur Thind, Independent public health professional

Janet E. McElhaney, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Health Sciences North Research Institute

Nora Loreto, Independent journalist

Written by Stephen Rees

June 29, 2021 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Transportation

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