COVID-19: lack of data prevents people from protecting themselves, experts say
Modelers promote mask-wearing, vaccinations and properly ventilated spaces to fight COVID-19.
An independent group of COVID-19 modeling experts argues that the BC government is not reporting data related to the evolution of the virus adequately, resulting in the population is incapable of knowing the risks it represents today.
According to the BC COVID-19 Modeling Group, made up of researchers from the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria, the undercount of reported COVID-19 cases is extremely high in the province's weekly reports.
The group of experts draws this conclusion by comparing the provincial data with two databases from blood samples, including the one is from a study co-authored by Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The number of infections reported by the province in its weekly reports comes mainly from PCR tests, which are no longer accessible for the majority of the population.
In their report, the Experts estimate there are 10,000 cases of COVID-19 per day in the province, 100 times more than the number of cases currently reported by the government. This estimate only takes into account infections involving an immune response, which excludes reinfections, the document says.
The Omicron BA.5 variant is dominant in the province and infection rates remain high, according to the report.
Beside this, the immunity of the population is declining and the health situation will worsen if they stop protecting themselves, warns the group.
This means continuing to get vaccinated, and doing what you can to minimize risk by wearing a mask and interacting with others in well-ventilated spaces, for Sarah Otto, one of the co-authors of the report published last week by expert panel.
According to provincial data, as of Thursday, 365 people with COVID-19 were in hospital, and 25 new deaths were reported among people with COVID-19. received a positive diagnosis for the virus within 30 days previously.
In April, the province changed the way it reports pandemic-related data from a daily report of infections, hospitalizations and deaths, to a weekly report.
But these weekly reports have flaws, and hospital admissions can be easily misinterpreted, especially by the media, denounces the BC COVID-19 Modeling Group.
The number of hospitalizations reported each week corresponds to hospitalizations reported over a two-week period. Data from the week before the data was released, however, is still around 25% incomplete, the report explains. Hospitalizations for that given week are adjusted in the following week's report.
“It's like comparing apples and oranges. You cannot compare a partial number one week with a fuller number the week before. ”
— Sarah Otto, Member, BC COVID-19 Modeling Group
CBC/Radio-Canada has contacted the Department of Health to inquire about why this data is being revised from the kind, without getting a response before the publication of this article.
Sarah Otto argues that there should be a stronger public health message about the importance of wearing a mask. The report highlights that booster doses of COVID-19 can reduce the impact of the virus this fall.
We did not see the BA.5 variant lose any magnitude, we know that population immunity is on the decline [because] vaccines [took place] early this year, laments Sarah Otto, who adds that there are no catches either of major appointments for the booster dose.
With information from Akshay Kulkarni