CALGARY — An Alberta paediatrician says Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s explanatory column defending the lifting of testing, mandatory isolation, and other COVID-related measures in the province is misleading.
Dr. Tehseen Ladha is a practising paediatrician, an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Paediatrics, and holds a Master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.
She says Hinshaw’s arguments are unscientific and unreasonable.
“I think the public, when they hear this from leadership, that we need to live with COVID, they believe that the time might be now, and that’s wrong,” Ladha said.
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“Scientifically we are not at that stage yet. Yes, we will one day all have to live with COVID, it will become part of our lives, but that will be when we’re not seeing an exponential rise in cases, that will be when we’re not seeing novel variants.”
Ladha also says Hinshaw’s example of children being equally prone to a sports injury as they are to be hospitalized with COVID, is a fundamentally flawed argument.
“Sports injuries are not a good comparison to COVID-19. Number one, because sports injuries aren’t transmissible, COVID-19 is infectious, it’s highly contagious,” Dr. Ladha said.
“We use risk mitigation strategies like helmets, elbow pads and knee pads to prevent sports injuries, so if we’re going to compare, which we shouldn’t be, with COVID-19, we’re removing all of those risk mitigation strategies.”
Ladha also says Hinshaw’s framing of testing, and contact tracing as ‘extraordinary’ measures is troubling.
“That really promotes the public thinking that mandatory isolation, and quarantining when you might have COVID are really something extreme, when actually, these are basic public health measures that are being followed by countries all over the world and haven’t been stopped, except for in Alberta. So I think that it’s really misleading to call them extraordinary measures.”
Ladha says the lifting of these public health measures will likely lead to rising infections and hospitalizations, ultimately culminating in a fourth wave of the virus. Of course, as a paediatrician, she’s also especially concerned about the well-being of children not yet eligible for vaccination.
“We’re already seeing this in some states — such as Florida — when we remove these fairly simple, low-impact, and low-cost measures, masking for example, what we’re going to see is the maximum number of children being infected with COVID-19 in the province,” Ladha said.
“There are close to 600,000 children that are ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccine at the moment, and when we don’t have testing, tracing, or mandatory isolation, and when we don’t mandate masks in schools, what we’ll see is, because the Delta variant is so transmissible, it will rip through schools and daycares like wildfire.”
Ladha goes on to explain it all ties back to our healthcare system, without those COVID measures in place, we will likely see serious illness and higher rates of hospitalization.
Alberta is one of the only places in North America to lift COVID-19-related public health measures to this degree.