Resources

by | Feb 12, 2021

This page is devoted to providing links to a wide variety of articles and videos related to the current pandemic.  With the exception of the Whiteboard Doctor resource which contains multiple links, the title for each article is also the link which will take you to the corresponding resource.

A virologist on COVID variant XBB 1.5

[Globe and Mail podcast – January 11, 2023]

This 18-minute podcast provides a thorough Canadian summary of what’s currently known about XBB.1.5, including precautions and the degree of protection offered by the latest bivalent booster shots.

Whiteboard Doctor: Explanatory YouTube videos on current COVID concerns

This is a collection of readily understandable whiteboard explanations of important aspects of the current state of the pandemic by a group of practicing US physicians. Videos are up to 30 minutes in length. Some have multiple topics, so you can scroll forward to the topic of interest. Just click on the corresponding link below. Note that, unless you have a YouTube premium subscription, you will be interrupted by occasional Youtube ads. Just wait out the four-second countdown and click to resume the video at the exact point of interruption. You can skip the site’s standard intro by scrolling ahead 40 seconds.

New Omicron Variant XBB.1.5 just EXPLODED – Mutations, Prevention, Severity, Home Testing, Treatment (Dec 30 – Click here for the latest on this new, subvariant which is the most infectious yet)

Omicron Variants BQ and XBB – Immunity After Vaccination, Bivalent Booster, Previous Infection (Dec 20 – Click here for a better understanding of how these latest variant readily evade our current immunity from both vaccinations and prior infection)

COVID-19 Update: Cases, Hospitalizations, Deaths, Variants, XBB (Dec 2 – For an update on the status and implications of the highly immune evasive XBB recombinant variant, click here and scroll ahead to 18:20)

Long Term Effects Of COVID-19 Reinfection On The Body – Long COVID, Mortality, Organ Dysfunction (Sept 18 – An excellent summary of the latest evidence regarding the long-term health risks that we face in the all-too-likely event that we experience multiple bouts of COVID)

I Have Omicron – AGAIN – Symptoms, Variants, Reinfection, Severity, Treatment, Long COVID-19 (Sept 30 – This is a longer and more personal version of the above video by the same physician who was hit by a second Omicron infection shortly thereafter)

Important Updates On Paxlovid During Omicron – Age, Vaccination Status, And Natural Immunity (June 3)

Ten COVID Facts Health Officials Dangerously Downplay

[by Andrew Nikiforuk in TheTyee on December 21, 2022]

Clearly and succinctly, noted journalist Andrew Nikiforuk zeros in on ten really important facts that public health officials who fear the consequences of contradicting the political messages of our current provincial governments are unable or unwilling to convey. With the much more highly transmissible BQ.1, BQ.1.1, XBB and XBB.1 variant now rolling in to Canada, this is well worth reading in advance of family and office holiday gatherings. 

The Lancet Commission on lessons for the future from the COVID-19 pandemic

[by 28 of the world’s most respected public health experts; published on September 14, 2022]

This report provides the definitive report card on the world’s response to this global health emergency, the real death rate from which is estimated to be approaching 18 million people, and documents both the lessons learned and what it would take to both end it and ensure that it is never repeated. As reported by Andre Picard in the September 20 Globe and Mail, the Commission grades most governments a resounding “F” for their failures. As we have long pointed out on this site, that very much includes Canada both federally and provincially.  

Should We Shrug at COVID? These Numbers Say No

[by Andrew Nikiforuk in TheTyee on September 8, 2022]

If you’re concerned about what’s coming next with this pandemic, the potential implications for your own health and that of your loved ones, and/or what you can best do to protect yourselves, this is a must-read article. All of the data and analysis that we have reviewed for the this site, as well as the noted epidemiologist who we’ve consulted, confirm the credibilty of Nikiforuk’s excellent summary.

Ontario’s COVID Science Advisory Table Eliminated

[TV Ontario interviews Dr. Fahad Razak, the Scientific Director of the Ontario Science Table]

Through most of this pandemic, the Science Table has served as the most trusted source of up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19. It’s most important value was its independence from the Ford Government, which left it free to give us the straight science, untainted by pressure to adhere to the ruling party’s self-serving messaging. As public health was increasingly politicized, it remained a beacon of rational, evidence-based advice. That, of course could not be allowed to continue and, quite predictably, the government has moved to terminate it.

Under the heading “A Trusted Source Gone”, the Toronto Star wrote, “The science table’s peerless pandemic dashboard would be eliminated, its access to data gone, its projects stranded. In its place, Public Health Ontario would establish a hand-picked 15-person advisory group with no formal scientific director, limited independence from PHO or the chief medical officer of health – no ability to unilaterally choose topics of study, for instance – and far less clinical expertise.”

BA.5 causes more severe disease

[by Dr. John Campbell, a UK researcher and educator, posted on July 5, 2022]

This YouTube video provides an excellent and readily understandable summary of what is currently known about the lastest BA.5 variant which one of the prime drivers of the latest Omicron wave.  What is especially worrisome is some preliminary evidence that BA.5 can spread further into its victims’ lungs, which could further increase hospitalization, ICU and death rates.

Get Ready for the Forever Plague

[by Andrew Nikiforuk in The Tyee on July 4, 2022]

The past few weeks have seen a succession of trends reversals and other significant pandemic-related changes. This article does an excellent if scary job of connecting all those dots.  A noted epidemiologist who reviewed the text at our request was of the opinion that it is both accurate and well done. The article paints a pretty grim picture, especially with respect to the effects on one’s health of multiple successive COVID infections, a concern which we have repeately voiced on this site.

Long COVID – a public health crisis taking out women at the height of their lives

[by Jennifer Hulme in HealthyDebate on May 26, 2022]

Dr. Hulme is a Toronto emergency physician and researcher who is herself a Long COVID sufferer. She makes some important points about the current status of this important but insufficiently well understood facet of the current pandemic. For more information, her article links to this comprehensive overview that was published The Atlantic in September of last year: Long-Haulers are Fighting for their Future. For another physician’s less lengthy Long Covid journey, view this Whiteboard Doctor video.

 

Edward Long lecture at UBC on the pandemic as an omni-crisis

[CBC Radio – Ideas, May 20, 2022]

Early on in his coverage of COVID, journalist Ed Yong realized it was more than just a science story — it was an omni-crisis. This truly excellent big-pictures leature focuses on exposing the cracks in society exacerbated by the pandemic. Mr. Long delivered this lecture as part of the Lind Initiative Future of the Media series at the University of British Columbia in April 2022.

‘Exhausting and Heartbreaking.’ The Other Side of Eased COVID Measures

[The Tyee – May 3, 2022]

A lot has been written and said about our “freedom” to choose what protective measures we wish to follow, but there’s another side to that coin – the costs borne by those more susceptible than us to COVID infection.  Those who wish Canada to emulate the current American view of freedom appear to be ignorant of George Washington’s 1777 smallpox vaccine mandate for his soldiers who fought at Valley Forge.

What’s different about Omicron and its BA.2 subvariant?

[Scientific American – May 2022 Issue]

Unlike the other articles on this page, there’s no point in providing a link since it’s paid and subscriber content. But the new scientific understanding of this virus is just so fascinating that it needs to be shared. We’ve therefore written a summary with a link to the full article should you decide that you want to read more.

BA.2 Evidence Brief and Risk Assessment

[Public Heath Ontario; April 8, 2022 ]

This document provides a through, very-well-researched, expert summary of the spread of BA.2, what makes it different, its risks and implications, and how we can best protect ourselves. That’s very important because, for the first time in this pandemic, both fully vaccinated people are getting infected and those who have already recovered from one or more bouts of COVID are being re-infected. While this document is from Public Health Ontario, an agency that is regrettably under the control of the Ford government, the authors appear to have been dared to present facts which contradict Mr. Ford’s “pandemic is done” re-election message (albeit not going quite so far as actually stating the obvious point that the lifting the indoor mask mandate was a huge mistake which needs to be rectified).

Don’t Be Fooled by the Great Pandemic Denial

[By Andrew Nikiforuk in The Tyee, April 4, 2022]

This excellent, impeccibly-researched article masterfully and succinctly covers most of the issues and concerns upon which we have been focussing in this site while providing some additional facts and references.

Excess COVID Deaths in Saskatchewan

[Saskatoon StarPheonix, January 24, 2022]

While we have switched to officially-published COVID death-rate statistics as the last reasonably-reliable metric for the severity of this pandemic, research findings suggest that they can also be quite misleading, with Saskatchewan perhaps being Canada’s most egregious example.  In jurisdictions where the official rates are suspect, researchers look for excess deaths above and beyond the historic norms to compensate for poor or deliberate misclassification of death records. That has been done for Saskatchewan, with the results pointing to Saskatchewan’s actual COVID deaths being seven times what the Province has admitted! That would be consistent with the Convervative Moe government’s track record of having been Canada’s least effective and most reluctant pandemic manager.  For a better understanding of that methodology, see this Royal Society of Canada report covering the first half of the pandemic.

Birth of the Omicron Family

[William Haseltine in Forbes]

This is an important article which provides the fundamentals for better understanding Omicron as a family of three related variants, as well as why and how they differ from their prececessors.

Vaccines are the silver bullet

[Globe and Mail Editorial – January 29, 2022]

Yet another editorial on vaccination which it well worth a read.  The Globe cuts through the misinformation with compelling statistics which support and underline its point that, for the current variant at least, COVID remains a pandemic for the unvaccinated which having been rendered endemic for the vaccinated.

COVID-19 breakthrough cases signal next phase of Canada’s battle

[by Ivan Semeniuk (Globe and Mail Science Reporter) – August 21, 2021]

I don’t normally link to Globe and Mail articles on this page because they are usually subscriber only.  But this one is open to all and does an excellent job of putting Delta “breakthrough cases” and their implications into an easily understood perspective.  For example: “Put another way, in a room full of 100 Canadians that are representative of the entire population, 35 individuals will currently be unvaccinated. Over time, nearly all of those unvaccinated people, about 33 of them, can expect to become infected as the virus circulates in the room. About six cases would be expected to arise among the fully vaccinated group. Bottom line: we can assume that only about 60 people in the room of 100 are “safe” from infection.”

Get vaccinated – or find another line of work

[Globe and Mail Editorial – August 9, 2021]

Yet another timely and well-considered Globe and Mail editorial. Those who choose not to get vaccinated are, for whatever reason, doing a severe disservice to themselves, their families and their broader community. The fourth (Delta) wave is now surging in Ontario with almost no public health measures remaining to check its growth.  Our only available defense is a significantly higher rate of full vaccination, one that we won’t reach without a goodly proportion of the vaccine hesitant and doubters doing the right thing. That will require more than just words to make happen.

Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 Infections, Including COVID-19 Vaccine Breakthrough Infections, Associated with Large Public Gatherings

[US Centres for Disease Control – August 6 , 2021]

This is a disturbing but important-to-know report on the rising incidence of “breakthrough” cases of Delta variant COVID infections among people who have already been fully vaccinated. It’s too early to quantify the risk of someone who is fully vaccinated being infected after close contact with a COVID carrier, but its unlikely to be small given that the State of Massachusetts recently reported 5,000 infections of vaccinated people, resulting in 329 hospitalizations and 80 deaths. Breakthrough cases are likely underreported because vaccinated people normally have much milder symptoms or are asymptomatic.  But, the CDC study reports that those individuals carry viral loads comparable to the unvaccinated, which suggests that they could be equally infectious. The CDC therefore recommends continued indoor mask wearing, even among the vaccinated.

How effective are coronavirus vaccines against the Delta variant?

[Published in the Financial Times of London on July 9, 2021]

This article provides an overview on the latest results of studies on the efficacy full vaccination (two doses) of the Phizer vaccine in terms of protecting against COVID infection. That protection turns out to be very significantly less than previously understood, which suggests that it would behove those of us who are fully vaccinated to continue observing social distancing precautions regardless of provincial government lifting of those restrictions.

Unvaccinated most at risk from Delta variant

[BBC News report published on June 12, 2021]

This UK news is very relevant to Ontario because the 60% more transmissible, partially vaccine-resistant Delta variant is currently replacing the previously dominant Alpha (a.k.a. B.117 and UK) variant here at a similar rate than it did there. In spite of the UK being the world’s most vaccinated country, Britons have suffered 30,000 new COVID infections in the past week, a third of them in people who had already received their first dose.

I got AstraZeneca for my first dose. Which vaccine should I get for my second?

[by a group of Canadian doctors, pharmacists, scientists, and patients; published by the University of Waterloo on June 6, 2021; Category: vaccinations]

This is an excellent source of advice for anyone who has received a first dose of AstraZenica and is wondering whether their second should be the same or a different vaccine.

Six months of COVID vaccines: what 1.7 billion doses have taught scientists

[by Heidi Ledford in Nature on June 10, 2021]

If you’re interested in an in-depth review of what has been learned in the course of six months of administering COVID vaccines, a period in which ever more infectious variants have been evolving and proliferating, this article is for you.