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Virus modelling estimates 11,000 to 22,000 Canadian deaths if physical distancing continues – The Globe and Mail

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Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, on April 8, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

In the next year, between 11,000 and 22,000 Canadians could die as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in what officials say are among the best-case scenarios for the disease.

The federal pandemic models released Thursday show that the country could see 22,580 to 31,850 cases by April 16, resulting in between 500 and 700 deaths.

Canada already has 19,291 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 435 confirmed deaths as a result of the disease.

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Disease modelling is meant to show what might happen as the illness spreads across Canada, and does not predict what will happen.

In reading the models, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has warned they are not a “crystal ball,” and instead serve to inform decision-makers about where they need to put resources, the health system’s capacity to respond to the virus, and what other measures need to be put in place to further limit transmission.

At a technical briefing, Dr. Tam and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, outlined three possible scenarios facing Canada over the next year.

With strong epidemic control measures, such as a high degree of physical distancing and a high per cent of testing and contact tracing, the models show the epidemic could last until the fall and infect between one and 10 per cent of the population. Officials say that is Canada’s best-case scenario.

The potential 11,000 to 22,000 range in deaths is based on an overall infection rate of between 2.5 and 5 per cent.

“We cannot prevent every death but we must prevent every death that we can,” Dr. Tam said, adding that the models show Canada must continue with its physical-distancing measures already in place.

If no policy measures, such as physical distancing, were put in place, the models show 70 and 80 per cent of people could become infected and more than 300,000 people could die.

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A middle-of-the-road scenario, where weaker controls would delay and reduce the peak, could lead to between 25 and 50 per cent of residents becoming infected with COVID-19 and more than 100,000 people could die. In that case, officials said the first wave of the pandemic could last until spring, 2021.

Dr. Tam said the models released by Ottawa show the first wave of the virus and warned that even when Canada is over the peak of the outbreak, some restrictions will need to stay in place to ensure the epidemic does not “reignite.”

She added that it is not clear yet when the pandemic will peak in different parts of the country, because no region is on the downward slope of its infection curve. Since at least half of all cases will come after the initial peak, the need for strong measures to reduce contact among individuals will need to continue for some time after it is clear that the first wave of the pandemic has crested, she said.

Nicholas Ogden, a senior scientist with the health agency, said that the fatality rate estimated for the Canadian figures – about 1.18 per cent of confirmed cases – was based on a range of factors and international data.

The federal government released its modelling after many provinces had done the same. On Wednesday, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador all released their models. British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec have also already made their models public.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is benefitting from being hit by the global pandemic after many other countries. “For the time being,” he said, the health care system is able to cope with the spread of the virus but the country is “at a fork in the road.”

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“We have the chance to determine what our country looks like in the weeks and months to come,” Mr. Trudeau said, meaning Canadians will have to continues to stay home and remain disciplined.

“This will be the new normal until a vaccine is developed,” Mr. Trudeau said.

Experts say making the models public is a way for officials to build trust with citizens who are being asked to take restrictive and economically painful measures to blunt the impact of the virus.

Despite new restrictions on exports of medical goods from the United States, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says hundreds of thousands of masks have made it across the border. The Canadian Press

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WHO resumes hydroxychloroquine trial on Covid-19 patients – ITIJ

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On May 25, WHO suspended the trial of the drug, which is usually used to treat malaria patients, after a study published in medical journal The Lancet found that Covid-19 hospitalised patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had a higher risk of death, as well as an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats, than those who weren’t treated with it. 

However, WHO officials have since asserted that there is no evidence that the drug reduces the mortality in these patients, and the study has since been retracted over data concerns. 

“The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of solidarity trial including hydroxychloroquine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference 3 June, adding that WHO planned to continue to monitor the safety of the therapeutics being tested in trials involving over 3,500 patients spanning over 35 countries. 

“WHO is committed to accelerating the development of effective therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics as part of our commitment to serving the world with science, solutions and solidarity,” Ghebreyesus said. 

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'Truly sorry': Scientists pull panned Lancet study of Trump-touted drug – National Post

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NEW YORK/LONDON — An influential study that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients has been withdrawn a week after it led to major trials being halted, adding to confusion about a malaria drug championed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Lancet medical journal pulled the study after three of its authors retracted it, citing concerns about the quality and veracity of data in it. The World Health Organization (WHO) will resume its hydroxychloroquine trials after pausing them in the wake of the study. Dozens of other trials have resumed or are in process.

The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the dataset for an independent review and they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

The fourth author of the study, Dr. Sapan Desai, chief executive of Surgisphere, declined to comment on the retraction.

The Lancet said it “takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously” adding: “There are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that used Surgisphere data and shared the same lead author, Harvard Medical School Professor Mandeep Mehra, was retracted for the same reason.

The Lancet said reviews of Surgisphere’s research collaborations were urgently needed.

The race to understand and treat the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of research and peer-reviewed scientific journals are go-to sources of information for doctors, policymakers and lay people alike.

Chris Chambers, a professor of psychology and an expert at the UK Center for Open Science, said The Lancet and the NEJM – which he described as “ostensibly two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals” – should investigate how the studies got through peer review and editorial checks.

“The failure to resolve such basic concerns about the data” raises “serious questions about the standard of editing” and about the process of peer review, he said.

The Lancet did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The NEJM could not immediately be reached for comment.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The observational study published in The Lancet on May 22 said it looked at 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, some treated with the decades-old malaria drug. It claimed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

“I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” the study’s lead author, Professor Mehra, said in a statement. “For that, and for all the disruptions – both directly and indirectly – I am truly sorry.”

Many scientists voiced concern about the study, which had already been corrected last week because some location data was wrong. Nearly 150 doctors signed an open letter to The Lancet calling the article’s conclusions into question and asking to make public the peer review comments that preceded publication.

Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the retraction decision was “correct” but still left unanswered the question about whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in COVID-19.

“It remains the case that the results from randomized trials are necessary to draw reliable conclusions,” he said. (Reporting by Michael Erman, Peter Henderson, Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason Editing by Leslie Adler, Tom Brown, Giles Elgood and Carmel Crimmins)

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Possible link between more overdoses and pandemic isolation: Guelph health officials – CTV News

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GUELPH —
The number of suspect overdose deaths in Guelph since the outbreak of COVID-19 has already surpassed the number of deaths in all of 2019.

Health officials say isolation could be a contributing factor, as staff at the consumption treatment centre have seen about half of the regular users during the time of the pandemic.

“From mid March until just the end of May we’ve seen eight deaths,” said Raechelle Devereaux, executive director of the Guelph Community Health Centre.

In 2018, there were seven overdose deaths in Guelph.

Jade McAfee uses the CTS site and say she’s lost a lot of friends to overdoses.

“It is scary,” she said. “I myself have overdosed 13 times.”

While officials say a toxic supply is to blame for overdoses, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a hurdle when it comes to prevention.

“The same things that are keeping people safe during the pandemic like isolating and staying home are some things that work against us,” said Devereaux.

Registered nurse Danielle Castledine supervises injections and says they would normally see 30 people a day before the pandemic.

“Before we had an intermediate space where people could be before and after,” she said. “So even if they were waiting they were waiting with peer workers and nurses and social workers.”

To help with better spacing, they’ve opened a new booth to decrease wait times and encourage more people to use the services.

“[Before the crisis] you didn’t have to have a mask, get stopped, have your temperature taken when you could blow in and out easily,” said Eric Cunningham, a user of the CTS site.

Staff say the lack of foot traffic at the CTS is a bad sign and worry the alternative is using in isolation, which decreases the likelihood of potentially life-saving intervention.

“It’s better for anybody to not do it alone,” said McAfee.

The health centre says between March 17 and May 30 there were 63 overdoses.

In the same time period last year there were 74, but only one overdose death.

The Guelph Community Health Centre says the team is door knocking at vulnerable apartment and shelters to give more information on harm reduction to help those potential using alone.

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