No, you shouldn’t wait for a better vaccine

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by Raywat Deonandan

Mar 15, 2021

This article was published in The Ottawa Citizen under the title, “Deonandan: No, you shouldn’t wait for a better vaccine” on Mar 15, 2021.

Scientists were rendered giddy by the data published by Pfizer and Moderna for their COVID-19 vaccines. Each showed 94-95% efficacy! Canadians now have access to formulations from Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson, as well. But their efficacy scores, while very good, are nonetheless slightly lower than those of Pfizer and Moderna So some Canadians are choosing to wait for “a better option” when given the chance to receive an AZ or J&J shot immediately. Continue reading

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The Saturday Debate: Can the Tokyo Olympics still happen this summer?

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by Raywat Deonandan & Helen Lenskyj

Jan 23, 2021

This article was the “No” component of a two-side debate. The “yes” side was written by Dick Pound. This debate was published in The Toronto Star on Jan 23, 2021.

 

In March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) reluctantly and belatedly announced the decision to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to July 2021. Since that time, organizers have addressed the challenges of doing so — in most cases, inadequately. Continue reading

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Delaying That Second Dose Is Not Evidence-Based Medicine But It Still Makes Sense

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by Raywat Deonandan

Mar 5, 2021

This article was published in The Ottawa Citizen on Mar 5, 2021.

 

The clinical trial data describing the safety and efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines were probably the most scrutinized science papers in history. They showed efficacy scores over 94% when a prime dose was followed by a booster 21 or 28 days later. Yet the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now recommends extending that interval to up to 4 months, a substantial deviation from the manufacturers’ directions. This has upset many who feel that this departure is tantamount to experimentation without consent. Continue reading

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Wearing a face mask is both socially responsible and self-interested

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by Raywat Deonandan

This article was published in The Ottawa Citizen on July 14, 2020. It was adapted from a blog post titled, “COVID19: Heroes Wear Masks.”

In many cities, each night at dusk, grateful residents applaud health care workers. It’s a reminder that in the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and nurses held the front line. All that was required from the rest of us was to stay home, watch Netflix, and learn to bake.

Continue reading

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COVID19 Testing is Our Salvation

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by Raywat Deonandan

This article was first published in India Currents Magazine on April 7, 2020. It is based on this blog post.

We are weeks into widespread social distancing in many parts of the world, though it feels like months. Cases of COVID19 continue to mount, as expected, and we watch Italy and Spain for signs of when our society might be cast into crisis and chaos. Health care workers, the heroes of our time (and of all times, really), gird themselves for a flood of respiratory distress cases, projected to peak sometime in April. Physicians and nurses of all specialties are being asked to update their ventilator training in anticipation of being called to the front lines for service. Yet many fear that they will not have sufficient weapons for this fight, such as masks and ventilators.

At this time, it’s important to remember that COVID19 has a global case-fatality rate of about 2 to 3%lower in the USA, meaning that most people will survive this. In the words of Larry Brilliant, “this is not a zombie apocalypse. It’s not a mass extinction event.” What is it, then? This is, and always has been, a health systems crisis more than simply a health crisis. Continue reading

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COVID-19 is not a health crisis, it is a health systems crisis

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by Raywat Deonandan

This article was published in The Toronto Star on April 7, 2020. It is based on an earlier blog post.

Most models of the COVID-19 pandemic show it continuing for another year or two, with North America stifled beneath the current wave of cases until June at the earliest. With such harrowing realities, it’s easy to mischaracterize this crisis as solely a medical one. Continue reading

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Coronavirus shows the urgent need to invest in health infrastructure

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by Raywat Deonandan

This article was first published in The Ottawa Citizen on Mar 13, 2020. A longer version is available here.

Bill Gates recently speculated that COVID-19 could be the “once in a century” disease whose severity rivals that of the 1918 Spanish Flu. That disease was so dire that it likely played a role in ending the First World War, having removed so many soldiers from the battlefield.

COVID-19 has already caused profound economic, psychological and even climatic impacts. But with a century of experience since the Spanish Flu, how resilient is our health infrastructure against this and future pandemics? Continue reading

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Closing the Indigenous Education Gap in Canada

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by Raywat Deonandan

The United Nations estimates that there are over 370 million indigenous people globally, spread across over 70 countries. In Canada, our approximately 3100 reserves are home to less than half of our 1.4 million Aboriginal citizens, who constitute one of the fastest growing and youngest segments of our society. Yet many Aboriginal communities in this country are characterized by deep poverty, high unemployment rates, substance abuse, suicide ideation, and domestic violence. In recent years, Canada has ranked between 6th and 8th on the UN Human Development Index, while our Aboriginal communities fall between 63rd and 78th. The federal government’s Community Well-Being Index shows that the gap has not changed at all since 1981. Continue reading

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