Europe Rolling back COVID restrictions, Canada "Redefines" COVID Disease Burden
Updated: Apr 1
New model to determine "disease burden" recommended by researchers
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as of January 27th, people won’t have to wear masks in public or show proof of vaccination if they want to visit a pub or have dinner in a restaurant. There will no longer be a work-from-home advisory.
Ireland is also planning to roll back COVID restrictions soon. That would spell an end to capacity limits for both indoor and outdoor events plus no more social distancing.
In France, the Prime Minister stated publicly French citizens can expect regulations to ease significantly very soon, possibly even end if COVID numbers continue to drop.
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says he believes the European Union should approach COVID-19 in the same manner that it approaches influenza.
New Way to report COVID hospital numbers in Canada
Last week British Columbia provincial health officials confirmed that almost half of COVID positive hospital admissions are "not admitted for COVID".
Quebec officials are saying the same thing.
Less than half, 45% (approx) of COVID cases detected were admitted because of COVID. The remaining COVID positive cases detected are "incidental".
What incidental describes, in this case, are people who come into a hospital for a reason not related to COVID. For example, a person comes into the hospital with a cut or a broken leg, not for COVID. They may test positive for COVID, but they are typically showing little or no signs they are infected with the virus.
Ontario's numbers are very similar. “Roughly 45 percent” of Ontario’s hospital admissions that are COVID positive are “incidental.”
In Alberta, it's estimated that over 40% of hospital admissions reported to be COVID-19 positive are incidental.
In Saskatchewan, 46% of patients were admitted due to COVID related illness, 46% were incidental cases.
The reporting of COVID admissions to hospital versus "incidental" COVID cases is also an issue in New York.
New York state Governor Kathy Hochul recently said she was “disappointed to see that at least a certain percentage of positive COVID cases in hospital settings are not related to being treated for COVID.”
Hochul said some of the patients test positive for COVID-19 “but they’re in there for other reasons,” “Think of all the other reasons people end up at a hospital; it’s an overdose, it’s a car accident, a heart attack.”
Why the change in reporting is significant, researchers recommend new model.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitalizations have been the metric used by governments to mount a response to the virus.
A recent study has examined that model
What the study found is that because of widespread vaccinations and possibly naturally acquired immunity the seriousness of COVID symptoms are often very mild or even asymptomatic.
The researchers recommend that SEVERITY should be included in reporting
"the proportion of hospitalizations that are due to severe COVID-19 has changed with vaccine availability, thus, increasing proportions of mild and asymptomatic cases are included in hospitalization reporting metrics. The addition of simple measures of disease severity to the case definition of a SARS-CoV-2 hospitalization is a straightforward and objective change that should improve the value of the metric for tracking SARS-CoV-2 disease burden.
It's unclear if the change in attitude towards how COVID-19 hospitalizations are reported is because of research like the beforementioned study. What it does suggest is COVIDs hold on people's health may be weakening.
Light at the end of the tunnel?