Advertisement

‘Living with the virus’ in Quebec, experts recommend continued use of masks, vaccines and better ventilation

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Quebec experts recommend continued use of masks, vaccines and better ventilation to move toward living with virus'
COVID-19: Quebec experts recommend continued use of masks, vaccines and better ventilation to move toward living with virus
WATCH: It was music to the ears of many when Quebec Premier Francois Legault spoke of the need to "learn to live with the virus" last week. But what will learning to live with the virus actually look like? Dan Spector asked a virologist, a bioethicist, and an infectious disease doctor for their opinions – Feb 13, 2022

It was music to the ears of many when Quebec Premier Francois Legault spoke of the need to “learn to live with the virus” last week.

But what will learning to live with the virus actually look like?

Global News asked a virologist, a bioethicist, and an infectious diseases doctor for their opinions.

“Nobody thought at any point that public health measures that are related to a crisis situation, to an emergency, can become something chronic that we can live with as a democratic society,” said Dr. Vardit Ravitsky, a bioethicist with the University of Montreal and Harvard Medical School.

Protestors are making increasingly loud calls to drop all public health measures, including masks and vaccine mandates, but to virologist Benoit Barbeau, masks should definitely be part of living with the virus.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: IN IMAGES: Thousands demonstrate in Montreal in support of anti-mandate protest

“If you take public transport, for example, I think that during seasons where there’s more likelihood transmission of the virus will be more active, these type of measures will help,” he said, pointing to masks becoming a more seasonal need.

Barbeau and McGill’s Dr. Donald Vinh say governments need to get serious about improving indoor ventilation on a large scale.

“For a closed space to be safe for SARS-Cov-2, you need ventilation, and it would have been nice to have a plan to address that,” said Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist.

The experts say wide-scale availability of rapid tests will be key, and improvement in hospital capacity will be necessary.

Barbeau points to targeted antiviral drug treatments being made available for the most vulnerable.

“We have tools that we can use. Right now, the ones that we have are only a fraction of those which are in development,” he said.

READ MORE: ‘Increasingly severe’ penalties for convoy protesters who break law, feds warn

Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau evoked new antiviral treatments becoming a tool that will help people live alongside the virus.

Story continues below advertisement

“Mostly it’s to be able to recognize the risk of it, cope with some periods of risk, and to benefit with the technologies that will be available to cope with it,” Boileau said on Wednesday. He said the vaccines will remain a key to fighting the virus. Barbeau and Vinh agree.

Some provinces are already promising to drop the vaccine passport. Vinh is encouraged by Quebec not making any such commitment yet, and hopes the vaccine passport does not disappear too quickly.

“That will be very important, ensuring now that the full vaccination status is either three or four, depending on your underlying health condition,” he said, explaining that more vulnerable individuals should look toward getting a 4th dose.

Barbeau also thinks vaccination is key, but was less adamant that the passport should remain long-term.

“Focusing and dividing the population based on whether you’re vaccinated or not, that will not necessarily lead to better adherence to whatever measures that will be imposed on the next wave,” said Barbeau.

Whatever living with the virus ends up looking like, Ravitsky hopes governments continue to make decisions informed by data.

“This is not about demonstrations or who is screaming or who is honking. It’s all about numbers,” she said.

Sponsored content