Have we passed the peak?

Re: Omicron spread has peaked (Castanet, Jan. 14)

On Jan. 11, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C.'s fifth COVID wave, fuelled by the Omicron variant, could start to level off in the next few weeks.

"We may soon enter the place we see a decline," Henry said in her briefing.

Three days later, Henry doubled down: "...so we think that we hit the peak of community transmission in British Columbia probably this past weekend..."

Anyone who has taken the time to watch Henry's press briefings in their entirety knows she frequently uses words such as "may", "probably" and "particularly".

"May" has several meanings, including: "used to indicate possibility or probability" and "used in auxiliary function to express a wish or desire".

In Henry's press briefings, it's not always clear which "may" she means. Many of her comments sound more like "truthiness”—a term coined by American comedian Stephen Colbert in 2005. Wikipedia defines truthiness as "the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions."

On Jan. 14, UBC professor Sarah (Sally) Otto, who is part of B.C.'s independent COVID-19 modelling group, was interviewed by CBC's Aarti Pole.

"My analysis of the data is saying that it's too early to say that we're really passed the peak, and for example, we know that testing has been restricted, especially in those who are younger,” Otto said when asked about Henry's statement about a decline in omicron transmission in B.C.

“People that are older, if you look only at those that are older who are asked to still continue to test, those case numbers are continuing to rise and have not yet peaked, which is what makes me think that the overall drop in case numbers merely reflects the fact that people were asked not to test, and a lot of people can no longer afford to wait in line for hours to get tested because they are back at work or back at school."

A music video on You Tube, Stressed Out (Bonnie H) by The Dexamethasones, is dedicated to doctors, nurses and all front-line workers “sacrificing so much to care for us all during this pandemic."

After the song ends, a statement appears on screen saying Henry has now admitted the actual COVID numbers are four to five times higher than they have been reporting since the beginning of the pandemic.

It was during the Dec. 29 press briefing that Henry finally said the quiet part out loud.

“All along, we know that the daily numbers are not reflecting everybody who has COVID in our province. That has been the case from the very beginning, and at different periods of time, the actual true number can be varied by four or five times what we're seeing in terms of PCR testing."

David Buckna, Kelowna

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