People will die whether economies are opened or not, but we can protect the elderly

coronaAs governments across the United States and Canada gear up to reopen our economies, there is the predictable chorus of nay sayers who argue that if we open now, people will die.

It’s a specious argument.

Proponents of staying locked down seem to think that the only risk to people during this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is from the made in China virus.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The lockdown, itself, has cost lives and will cost lives in the future.

How many people have died from heart ailments because they cannot have an operation or see a doctor?

How many children will die because they have not received their vaccinations?

How many people have died because they have committed suicide in isolation?

How many people will die because they drank too much alcohol?

The coronavirus pandemic is not the only disease which has killed people.

Last year, for example, the flu killed 80,000 people in the United State and 4,500 in Canada. The vast majority of those killed were seniors.

It is no different during the current pandemic. Eighty to 90 per cent of people killed by the Wuhan virus are seniors and of those most live in care facilities of one sort or another.

In other words, people seemed willing to accept death tolls in the tens of thousands last year but not this year.

This is not an either/or situation. It is possible to safeguard the most vulnerable and have a functioning economy.

We should not be so willing to accept the death toll of seniors from epidemics at any time. During flu epidemics we rely too heavily on vaccines to safeguard the elderly.

It is clear, though, from the death toll that vaccines alone afford little protection to those least able to defend against infection.

That’s the lesson that we need to take from the current pandemic. Proper screening of staff/visitors, sanitation protocols, improved training all need to be in place at care facilities.

It is the elderly that bear the brunt of any epidemic. We can and should do a better job of protecting them. But keeping the economy closed is not the answer.

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