VANCOUVER — A study co-authored by British Columbia’s top physician says at least 70 to 80 percent of children and youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19. The study, which lists Dr.
VANCOUVER — A study co-authored by British Columbia’s top physician says at least 70 to 80 percent of children and youth in Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been infected with COVID-19.
The study, which includes Dr. Bonnie Henry among 13 authors, says that, in contrast, 60 to 70 percent of adults ages 20 to 59 and about 40 percent of those over 60 have been infected.
The preliminary study, which has not been peer-reviewed and was published on the Internet site medRxiv on September 9, drew criticism from an advocacy group whose spokesperson called it “extremely damning” of Henry’s policies and guarantees for fathers.
Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, who speaks for Protect Our Province BC, a group of health professionals, scientists and advocates who say they want evidence-based policies, said the study shows there was a major spike in infections during the school year among children under 10
“This is basically documenting how children got infected and not taking responsibility for misleading parents that schools were safe,” Filiatrault said Tuesday, adding that the spread of the virus in daycare centers has been a concern for parents.
The study says infection surveillance reports had underestimated actual infection levels by 92 times between March and August.
The study says the infection rate for all ages in Lower Mainland BC rose from less than 15 percent to around 60 percent between October last year and August this year, when the highly infectious Omicron variant took hold. .
It is based on 14,000 anonymous blood samples obtained between March 2020 and this August from a network of outpatient laboratories.
A Health Ministry spokesman said Henry was not expected to be available to comment on the study until Thursday during a news conference on the COVID-19 model numbers.
Lead author Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiologist who focuses on emerging respiratory pathogens at the BC Center for Disease Control, was also unavailable.
Filiatrault said one of the most jarring aspects of the study is the authors’ claim that infection levels, combined with vaccination, have resulted in “more robust hybrid immunity.”
He said the huge toll that COVID-19 was taking on some children, as well as parents who might have been infected by youngsters, had gone unrecognized due to a lack of early action to mitigate the spread in classrooms.
Filiatrault said Henry’s assurances that COVID-19 spreads primarily in the community, not in schools, did not match the reality of infections among children, and that had now been backed up by the study’s findings.
“This study sets out, in a stark fashion, what has been going on in this province, and it is, essentially, extremely damning,” he said, adding that masks should be mandatory in schools.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re on a dangerous trajectory. What happened is that the children went home and infected their parents and their multi-generational families. And that is affecting the economy.”
Kyenta Martins, speaking for the parent group Safe Schools Coalition BC, said the study validates concerns parents have had about ventilation in schools.
“A lot of people have been sounding the alarm. I am one of many, and I hate that term, but (we have been) misled by Henry and many public officials,” she said.
“Information has been available all this time by different scientists, aerosol experts, studies, detailing what we’ve said, that schools are a place of transmission because you’re in close contact.”
Martins said he would like to know how school boards have spent federal money provided through the province to improve air quality, especially as COVID-19 cases are projected to spike this fall.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 13, 2022.
Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
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