By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Chatham-Kent’s recent spike of COVID-19 deaths — 21 of the 47 occurred in January — can be attributed to the sheer number of people who are infected.
Medical officer of health Dr. David Colby said the highly transmissible virus is disproportionately affecting people who suffer from co-morbidities.
Chatham-Kent’s relatively low number of deaths earlier in the pandemic corresponds to the lower number of cases.
But omicron changes everything. Colby said Public Health is now focused on harm reduction, which includes vaccination against the illness.
At a weekly municipal media conference, Colby said that while vaccination does not prevent getting the virus, it normally prevents severe illness.
Some deaths are inevitable he said, because not everyone is vaccinated.
“We are dealing with a large number of people that are infected that are of advanced age,” Colby explained.
The way health experts are dealing with COVID-19 is changed. Contract tracing – an earlier mainstay of controlling the pandemic, has been abandoned – with only high-risk cases being tracked.
Eventually, few will be able to evade omicron, Colby explained, with everyone becoming infected over time.
“In terms of how to avoid the infection, that’s going to be very, very hard,” he said.
“The virus is not going to be gone,” he added. “It could disappear but it probably will continue to circulate.”
That could mean citizens would need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 every year.
Another recent development, Colby said, was a fresh supply of Pfizer vaccine – a drug some Chatham-Kent residents have been holding out for.
Colby said people have adopted a “peculiar brand loyalty” with the Pfizer shot similar to how the public chooses beer or cars, even though Moderna has proved to be just as effective.