Taking Your Mask Off: The Death Cycle

On March 21, 2022, Ontario lifted the province-wide COVID-19 restrictions; such as wearing a mask and using vaccine passports. There has been a repeating cycle in Ontario COVID-19 cases for the past two years. As cases go down a bit – we lift the COVID-19 restrictions, then cases rise once again; we re-enforce those measures again. The main factors that cause these cycles are the virus’ changing variants, the waned immunity to the disease and Ontario’s COVID-19 guidelines.

The reason COVID-19 cases have gone down in Ontario is because of the COVID-19 restrictions, to name a few – mask mandate, and vaccine passports. A month before the Provincial Government announced the mask mandate, there had been Ontarians protesting against the government’s pandemic measures. The government is doing this to satisfy those who protested: to gain their votes in the Ontario Election. “Public health measures helped control this phase,” Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says in a series of slides posted on its website. 

The science table also says, “Relaxation of these measures will increase the spread of COVID-19. The size of any resurgence is difficult to predict and will depend on vaccination, the spread of Omicron, and changes in behaviour (e.g., mobility, masking).”From December 2020 to January 2021 COVID-19 cases have nearly doubled; cases over this time went from a 3.29 per cent decrease to a 35.82 per cent  increase; 2,005 cases to 1,939 to 3,363.

On February 12, 2021, the Provincial Government decided to address the COVID-19 crisis and added additional health restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19. They issued the stay-home order where everyone was required to stay at home except for necessary purposes or activities; such as going to the grocery, or pharmacy, and for work.Then cases dropped back to the hundreds, thanks to the procedures that the Ontario Provincial Government implemented. On March 27, 2021, Ontario lifted the mask mandate in most public spaces. Now that the provincial government has lifted the mask mandate, Ontarians are not required to wear masks – germs are now much more transmittable. So in less than a week cases start to rise again; hundreds to three thousand.

In two years, COVID-19 has had five different mutations. The COVID-19 variants are more transmissible and may impact vaccine effectiveness as well as increase the severity of the virus. It won’t be a shock if another variant appears. Take the Omicron variant(B.1.1.529) for example; the first two cases of this mutation were confirmed on November 28, 2021. As of February 27, Omicron takes up 99.1 per cent of Canada’s weekly COVID-19 cases – Delta, a variant that’s claimed to be 133 per cent more deadly than the Original COVID strain taking up 0.1 per cent.  Meanwhile, in terms of deaths, the original coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has around 84 deaths; the current highest number of deaths in a day.  The next variant could be as transmittable as Omicron, as deadly as Delta or might even turn out to be the least deadly variant. The Ontario government should hope for the best but prepare for the worst. 

Being fully vaccinated or have already gotten the virus doesn’t mean one is forever immune. It’s because the effectiveness of the immunity isn’t extremely high – that causes the continuous positive cases. Scientific and medical studies show that vaccines work with your body to develop a natural immunity to a disease. But the immunity loses effect over time. Between March 17-and 24 of 2022,  Canadians who are not fully vaccinated had a death rate four times higher compared to those who were fully vaccinated.  86% of eligible Ontarians are fully vaccinated, they were four times less likely to die from COVID-19 than those not fully vaccinated. In terms of positive COVID-19 cases – those with full vaccinations have been twice as high as those who are either partially or unvaccinated.

These three factors make me believe that we are easing the COVID-19 protocols too early. Moving on too quickly, leaves many risks and uncertainties. Lifting the restrictions may give us more space for social interactions, but the goal is to rid the virus once and for all, not drag out the process. Cases could soon rise once again as immunity starts to wane. Lifting the restrictions now only gives more opportunities for COVID-19 to evolve.

Many youths go to schools where we come in contact with lots of people. We have become more vulnerable now that we have less protection and more exposure to the virus. One way to make our opinion of this situation heard is to rely on resources; we have each other, reliable adults, and the ability to build up a platform for youths to gather and discuss politics online. Minors can support one another and take a stand so that adults will listen to us. Youths could create a youth advocate club where youths can express their opinions on the rules and policies. Teens have access to many resources in their community, to name a few the Ontario Association of Child and Youth Care, The Ombudsman, and Young Men’s Christian Association. We need to make use of those resources to spread awareness of the problems we face in combating this pandemic.

Works Cited

Declarq, Katherine. “Most of Ontario COVID-19 restrictions are lifting in March. Here’s what you need to know.” CTV News Toronto. Last modified February 27, 2022. Accessed April 7, 2022. https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/most-of-ontario-covid-19-restrictions-are-lifting-in-march-here-s-what-you-need-to-know-1.5798328.

Lukpat, Alyssa. “Ontario will drop its indoor mask mandate weeks after trucker protests.” The New York Times. Last modified March 9, 2022. Accessed April 11, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/09/world/canada/ontario-will-drop-its-indoor-mask-mandate-weeks-after-trucker-protests.html.

Grey, Jeff. “Ontario’s science advisers say easing restrictions will increase COVID-19 cases.” The Globe and Mail. Last modified February 1, 2022. Accessed April 7, 2022. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-ontarios-science-advisers-say-easing-restrictions-will-increase-covid-2/.

Public Health Ontario. “Ontario Covid-19 Data.” Chart. https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data.

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The Government of Ontario. “Ontario Confirms First Two Cases of Omicron Variant.” Ontario Newsroom. Last modified November 28, 2021. Accessed April 8, 2022. https://news.ontario.ca/en/statement/1001241/ontario-confirms-first-two-cases-of-omicron-variant.

Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). “Epidemiologic summary: COVID-19 in Ontario – January 15, 2020 to April 6, 2022.” Public Health Ontario. Accessed April 7, 2022. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/epi/covid-19-daily-epi-summary-report.pdf?la=en.

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Sakay, Yasemine Nicola. “Beyond Omicron: How vaccines, transmission will shape the next variant.” Medical News Today. Last modified March 13, 2022. Accessed April 7, 2022. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/beyond-omicron-how-vaccines-transmission-will-shape-the-next-variant#Will-the-variant-after-Omicron-be-weaker.

“COVID Natural Immunity: What You Need to Know.” Hopskins Medicine. Last modified November 23, 2021. Accessed April 8, 2022. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid-natural-immunity-what-you-need-to-know.

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