Right in the centre - Some observations on our current situation


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

have had the privilege of receiving information about the COVID-19 virus from an infectious diseases physician. His first and strongest message was that while he and his co-workers have been repeatedly thanked for being on the front lines, he emotionally insisted that it is the average Canadian, you and I and all our friends and neighbours, who are on the front lines in this great battle.

As to the actual pandemic, it is his learned opinion, that the two curves we have all seen so much about mean the same number of people will become infected. The slower curve hopefully means there will be fewer deaths, as the health care system has a better chance of saving the lives of those who get really sick. 

There are two numbers to remember. The one is very easy to determine after the fact and that is how many will have died. That’s a pretty easy number to figure out. It’s the top number in the fraction or equation. It’s called the numerator. The bottom number, the denominator, is much harder to determine and that is the number of people infected. It is his opinion, and the opinion of many others, that we will never likely know how many people become infected in this pandemic. Many won’t know, won’t be tested. With that in mind, it will be very hard to determine percentages. It’s his opinion that about 30 per cent of the population could become infected. How many will die is anyone’s guess.

If the virus was allowed to go unchecked, more people would become sick, many without really being aware they have anything but a regular cold or flu. It’s the doctor’s thoughts that with an unchecked pandemic, the population would build up a wider immunity level and be less susceptible to a second wave of the disease. That has been titled “herd immunity.” There would be a lot more deaths too, as the health care system can’t handle the high numbers in a short time.

The underlying message is that many will get the virus, many won’t know, a very large percentage will recover. Tragically, some have died and more will die. The bigger question is how to handle the next wave of infection or the next disease. 

•According to Alberta Health Services Media, they will soon have faster, more convenient access to COVID-19 testing through a new partnership between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and a Canadian technology company.

Spartan Bioscience Inc. is in the late stages of developing an innovative handheld, rapid-testing device for COVID-19, which can confirm test results for the virus in less than one hour. Unfortunately, it also reported that Health Canada may take weeks to approve the device.

•Under the heading “unexpected consequences”, I have read that with most airline travel and land vehicle traffic shut down, the CO2 level in the atmosphere is dropping. Two things come out of that. One is, I guess farming wasn’t to blame for the so-called excessive CO2 levels after all. Second, with a lower CO2 level, worldwide crop production levels could decline, as plants need and respond to higher CO2 levels.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.