‘We’ve done this before’: Manitoba virologist says fourth wave will be different

The COVID-19 Delta variant can be as contagious as the chickenpox, an internal CDC report says. Getty Images

As the province gets ready to re-implement its mask mandate, one Manitoba virologist says the next wave of COVID-19 isn’t comparable to the others due to one thing: vaccines.

“The vaccines have continued to provide strong protection against severe disease and against hospitalization,” Jason Kindrachuk said.

Read more: Manitoba reports more than 100 new COVID-19 cases

The virologist said while Manitoba has a high vaccine uptake, there remain several areas in the province where fewer people have received the shot.

He also noted that vaccination doesn’t mean people can let down their guard completely.

Kindrachuk said people who have been inoculated can still contract the virus, so being mindful of symptoms and who they spend time with, as well as wearing a mask are still important. However, he reiterated, these are hardly new measures.

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“We’ve done this before — it’s tiring, it’s exhausting, it’s depressing,” Kindrachuk said. “The virus is not done with us, so what choice to we have other than to certainly protect those around us.”

He said viruses don’t feed into a narrative we hope to follow, and is happy to see the province being proactive surrounding concerns of the Delta variant.

Read more: ‘Really unpredictable’: Worries mount over return to school amid 4th COVID-19 wave

Clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Piotrowski said people being proactive in their personal life could also ease anxiety surrounding the fourth wave.

“I ended up buying cross-country skis in August, as a way to prepare for the winter,” Piotrowski said.

She advised people to think small-picture and avoid comparing the situation Manitoba is in now, to how it was last August. Instead, Piotrowski said taking things one day at a time is an easier way to cope if they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

“Just take a step back and say ‘wait a second, there are a lot of things that I can still do that are controllable,'” she said.

Read more: Manitoba facing shortage of school bus drivers, thanks in part to pandemic

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Though Kindrachuk and Piotrowski both recognize the unknown can be frustrating, Kindrachuk said science is something to rely on.

“The vaccines have not failed — they have continued to withstand the test of time. They continue to withstand the barrage of variants thrown at them,” he said, calling the vaccines a silver lining making the light at the end of the tunnel (to the end of the pandemic) much brighter than it was.

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