University of Toronto researcher raises thorny question about COVID-19 death toll in British Columbia

This weekend, British Columbia is certain to hit another grim milestone.

With 2,597 official deaths from COVID-19 so far, it is inevitable that the province will top 2,600 when the Department of Health releases the latest statistics on Monday (January 31).

On Friday January 28, British Columbia also reported that there were 990 “COVID positive people” in hospital.

During Friday’s briefing from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, a chart was presented showing that British Columbia has far fewer deaths per capita than other large provinces.

“British Columbia has had some success compared to other jurisdictions, but there have been real losses,” Dix said.

The general tone was that COVID-19 has been a grueling battle over the past two years, but the province is doing its best to stem the worst effects of the disease.

This graph shows British Columbia’s death toll from COVID-19 compared to other major provinces.

Another graph shows that British Columbia’s hospitalization rate is lower than other major provinces.

This graph shows British Columbia’s record for hospitalizations due to COVID-19 compared to other major provinces.

This reassured British Columbians that the provincial government responded competently to the pandemic.

But an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of dentistry has publicly questioned whether British Columbia might be underreporting COVID-19 deaths to a much greater degree than other provinces.

Dr. Tara Moriarty directs the Moriarty Lab, which studies blood-borne bacterial pathogens. She has a cross-appointment in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

In one long twitter thread looking at provincial death rates, Moriarty suggested that there is a “possible 5-fold underdetection/underreporting” of COVID-19 deaths in British Columbia

It was based on “the daily new deaths predicted for Omicron, based on age-specific death rates, vaccination rates, boosters, vaccine protection against deaths from Omicron, the number of people in each group living in a region, minus the deaths reported so far in each region”.

Moriarty updates this information daily.

According to his analysis, Quebec is the only province in Canada with a total of COVID-19 deaths that matches his estimate of expected deaths.

It is an astonishing assertion.

Unsurprisingly, Moriarty’s analysis is generating quite a bit of discussion on social media, including among some doctors.

Steve Morgan, a professor in the UBC School of Population and Public Health, encouraged his Twitter followers to read Moriarty’s thread and then “ask questions accordingly.”

Here’s the problem with Morgan’s recommendation to ask questions accordingly: The vast majority of the population lacks the means to verify whether hospitals and health authorities are accurately reporting COVID-19 death statistics.

Still, this is an extremely serious problem, given the death toll. That aside from a growing controversy over whether the provincial government is responding appropriately to a airborne virus.

Sonia Furstenau, Green Leader from British Columbia, has already demanded an independent scientific table on COVID-19 and up-to-date data on people’s ages hospitalized with COVID-19.

In light of Moriarty’s finding that British Columbia has the fewest recorded deaths compared to expected COVID-19 deaths, don’t be surprised if Furstenau’s next request will be for an independent review of COVID-19 deaths. 19.

BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau has called for an independent scientific panel to assess the BC government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A vascular disease

Part of the problem with assessing whether someone has died from COVID-19 is the widespread perception that it is a respiratory disease.

In fact, a growing number of scientific experts claim that it is actually a vascular disease with primary symptoms of a respiratory condition.

“Our public health officials insist on calling COVID a respiratory disease when it is clearly only the first phase of this complex syndrome,” said a group called Protect our province BC written on January 17 open letter to Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

“The concerning part of COVID-19 is the vascular injury which can manifest, often some time later, in damage to multiple organs, including the heart, lungs, liver and brain, causing long-term illness that is life-altering for some,” the letter continues. very little understood, Post covid syndrome or Long Covid suffer in silence and are classified in the statistics as ‘cured'”.

In his January 28 briefing – which came on the second anniversary of the first diagnosis of COVID-19, Henry did not mention that the disease is airborne or vascular.

In another briefing this month, Henry said COVID-19 will need to be managed like other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and enteroviruses that cause the common cold.

In one January 28 interview on CBC Radio One The stream along with Matt Galloway, Henry also argued that there is a high level of immunity due to the extent of vaccination against COVID-19.

“It’s like a really bad flu season,” Henry told Galloway.

She reiterated that the Omicron variant causes “predominantly mild disease”. And she predicted that British Columbia will have a “relatively mild spring”.

“We have the tools to deal with what comes next – and we’ve learned that,” Henry said.

She also claimed there was “intentional misinformation” being spread with the aim of “fomenting fear”.

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