In the latest episode of MLI's Pod Bless Canada, MLI Senior Fellow Dr. Shawn Whatley speaks with Dr. Martha Fulford, associate professor of infectious diseases at McMaster University, about how Canadian policy makers have handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Fulford describes a mindset that has taken hold and has not evolved since the early days of the pandemic, when the country was understandably locked down in the face of an unknown threat.
"There are still some people who seem to feel that this is a deadly virus for anyone who might get it," says Dr. Fulford, when it remains a serious threat mostly to the elderly, which is where our focus should be.
"I thought we could have talked about a targeted approach. We didn't do a very good job," says Dr. Fulford.
She urges policy makers to base their pandemic plans on past experience with this pandemic and previous ones, with the following priorities:
- Protect the most vulnerable, primarily the frail elderly
- Focus on where the virus is really being transmitted, hot spots where front line workers are living
- Build surge capacity into the health care system
- Don't destroy the fabric of our society in the effort
Dr. Fulford stresses that schools have not caused high levels of transmission and students need to return to class as soon as possible. "The impact on our children with school closures is going to be felt for their entire lifetimes," she says.
"COVID has clearly had a devastating impact, but our response to it has been also very devastating," adds Dr. Fulford. "It's not really economy versus health, it's really health versus heath. ... We mustn't forget that there are many other aspects of public health that have been neglected."