How Policy Shifted The Burden of The Pandemic

Our response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted hospitalizations and mortality from the over-65 to the under-65 age group. Social distancing, lockdowns, and masking are contributing to mental health epidemics, and affecting the immune systems of children.

Under-65 excess mortality exceeds under-65 Covid-19 deaths in Canada. Approximately 90% of Covid-19 deaths are in the over-65 group, yet 2020 saw the highest rates of accidental poisonings and overdoses for those under-65. The average age of Canadians who died of Covid-19 in 2020 is 83.8 years, while the average age at death in Canada in 2019 was 76.5 years.

Anyone, regardless of age, dieing from Covid-19 is a tragedy. But, the policies and response to Covid-19 should not result in an increase in mortality among the under-65! And, it's not like we have to start from scratch, nor guess how we should be addressing the pandemic. The Great Barrington Declaration, written by infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists, lays out how focused protection can be effective.

Further, the damage we are doing to children, by limiting their exposure to other pathogens by social distancing and mask wearing could drastically shift mortality rates. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) hospitalizations among children in Canada range from 6000 to 12,500[1] per year. Covid-19 has only seen 1,489 under-19s hospitalized! Average RSV hospitalizations are at least 6x that of Covid-19! Does our response feel proportional?

We don't have a clear picture of all the possible effects of our pandemic policies. And, we're already seeing signals with increased excess mortality in the young, and limited immune exposure in infants. Does it make sense to shift the burden of the pandemic on to the young?

Footnotes

[1] Within USA, 100,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths annually are attributed to RSV. In developed countries, 1% to 3% of all infants are hospitalized with RSV infection. The exact numbers for Canada are behind a paywalled study, but Google surfaces the details.

September 1, 2021