Dear Premier Kenney:
Many Albertans – myself included – commended you on your previous commitment to a balanced approach to protecting Albertans from COVID-19, while at the same time not completely abrogating our freedoms and rights such as free speech, peaceful assembly, association, and our ability to earn a living and care for our families.
(Tuesday) you imposed new lockdown measures which severely limit and, in some cases, shut down entirely many social, family, friendship, spiritual, recreational and entertainment pursuits that Albertans rely on for their well-being, just as you did in the spring. While you have commendably spared small businesses from suffering the complete shut-down they experienced this past spring (and your apology for this mistake is laudable and honourable), it seems that you have not learned much from the lockdown harms which Albertans experienced earlier this year.
The evidence that you provided for this lockdown is both suspect and incomplete and does a disservice to Albertans who deserve more from you. A major tenet of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians like myself ascribe to is “First Do No Harm”, which is ignored by this imposed lockdown.
Is it too late to correct this lockdown error? No, not if you are willing to be better informed. We have learned a great deal since the onset of this pandemic, much of which is the result of how different regions and countries have attempted to control the spread of COVID-19 and treat those infected. Now we know who is at greatest risk and have proven effective therapies for those who are seriously ill, as reported by the National Institute of Health on Dec 3, 2020; and we are on the cusp of mass immunization consequent to multiple vaccines soon to be available worldwide. The public should be reassured, rather than locked down.
Within the last few weeks, new evidence informs a more nuanced approach to better protect Albertans without unintended and unacceptable consequences, such as defined in the excellent recommendations of the Great Barrington Declaration, further addressed below.
I acknowledge with reverence those Albertans who have passed on from COVID-19, just as I acknowledge many others like Jerry Dunham who have died because lockdowns prevented their access to healthcare for very serious non-COVID-19 illnesses and conditions. I acknowledge the many with despair who have died from suicide and drug overdose. We now know that lockdowns are more lethal than COVID-19, and must learn from what has transpired to ensure we do not continue to make the same mistakes. Were you not informed of these facts, or did you simply ignore them?
Please consider the following evidence and unintended consequences that should give you the courage to retract the restrictions:
1. We are nowhere close to overwhelming our healthcare system. As of December 9, 2020 there were 654 COVID-19 patients in 8,500 beds, or 7.7 per cent of capacity. There were only 112 patients in 272 ICU beds, or 41.2 per cent of operational capacity, however, you have stated publicly that the ICU capacity can be increased to 1,081 beds. This implies that, at present, only 10.4 per cent of potential ICU beds are filled.
2. Have you evaluated what percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are actually in hospital because of COVID-19, as opposed to with COVID-19, wherein it is the underlying disease that is the actual reason for the admission? The public deserves to know.
3. Have you evaluated the percentage of patients who died with, but not from COVID-19? This information is extremely important to share with the public who deserve a fair and balanced presentation of the facts to both prevent fear and panic, as well as garner buy-in of government policy.
4. Are you aware that the PCR test for COVID-19 has a false positive rate of up to 50 per cent according to the CDC (USA Center for Disease Control), and up to 90 per cent by other sources?
5. Are you aware of how many people have died or become seriously compromised because they could not access healthcare for non-COVID-19 disease, including treatments for heart disease, cancer, and other life-threatening problems? Lockdowns are more lethal than Covid-19, which cannot be over-emphasized. Do you not think that the public should know this?
6. Are you aware of how many people have committed suicide due to government-imposed lockdowns and the shuttering of businesses, schools, colleges, and universities? Have you tried to find out?
7. Do you believe that it is ethically and morally appropriate for government to pick winners and losers by defining what is an essential versus a non-essential business, or activity such as, but not limited to, social, recreational, fitness-related, or spiritual pursuits?
8. Are you fully aware of the magnitude of the economic devastation Alberta has sustained, and that we are spiralling down rapidly to a have-not province, according to the Fraser Institute?
9. Are you aware of how many divorces have occurred consequent to lockdowns and loss of income? What about the increase in domestic abuse, family violence and increase of substance abuse?
10. Are you aware of the short- and long-term effects on the mental health of our most vulnerable, including our children?
11. Have you been apprised of how much crime has increased due to people becoming desperate just to stay alive?
12. Finally, in the interests of transparency, please provide the information highlighted above to all Albertans on a daily or weekly basis on the AHS website, various social and other media sources available, so that we the people of Alberta can work with you, rather than question the validity of imposed interventions that are no longer required.
Your consideration to rescind the lockdown should also be based on fact. I implore you to read the Great Barrington Declaration authored by professors in medicine from Oxford, Harvard, and Stanford, who are experts in epidemiology, immunology, biostatistics, vaccine development, mathematical modelling, and public health policy. The Declaration has been co-signed by 38,154 medical practitioners, as well as 12,717 medical and public health scientists world-wide. Please also review the section in the Declaration on Frequently Asked Questions. You will be better informed and better able to give proper consideration to a more humane, compassionate and effective approach, rather than inflicting a multitude of harms on 4.4 million people. Please consider the following targeted recommendations:
1. All testing should stop immediately, particularly for those who are asymptomatic, except for;
-People presenting to hospital with respiratory problems
-Nursing home employees with ‘point-of-care’ testing
2. Nursing homes should have a comprehensive campaign for;
-Staff education in infection control
–Vitamin D daily for all inhabitants
-Electronic audiovisual communications for loved ones wishing to stay in touch
3. There is also gathering evidence on the use of Ivermectin to prevent COVID-19, as evidenced in this Senate Testimony on December 8, 2020. The evidence for effective prophylaxis with Ivermectin is compelling
4. Everywhere – hospitals included – should open immediately with conventional pre-Covid-19 precautions.
5. Mandatory mask-wearing should cease (except for health professionals) as there is no credible scientific basis, as evidenced in the November 18, 2020 Danish randomized controlled trial reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Further, no country has reported a change in the trajectory of COVID-19 diagnosis consequent to widespread public testing of asymptomatic citizens before and after the institution of a countrywide mask mandate.
6. Interventions such as total lockdowns, social distancing, and compulsory mask use are causing more harm than good. The genie (virus) is out of the bottle and the spread cannot realistically be controlled at all by the current interventions.
7. Contact tracing and snitching should cease immediately.
8. AHS must come clean with Albertans and provide robust information on the unintended consequences of lockdown measures which were initially well-intentioned but have now proven to be harmful to Albertans’ mental, physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and economic well-being; as well as lethal from suicide, drug overdose and inability to access healthcare for serious non-COVID illness and conditions.
9. Finally, as healthcare is in your purview, please ensure that decisions come from your government/AHS, and not from municipalities who do not have access to the necessary resources and expertise to justify restrictions of any kind.
In conclusion, we have learned much over the past several months. Perhaps most important is the knowledge that lockdowns are more lethal than COVID-19, which should compel you and your government to end them. Your advice and policies for the benefit of Albertans should be predicated on one important tenet of the Hippocratic Oath, “First Do No Harm”, and a focussed approach will achieve just that, as explained in the Great Barrington Declaration.
As for each of us Albertans, we must simply adapt and learn to accommodate to COVID-19, as we all did every previous year with seasonal influenza. We must all take personal responsibility for our health and take actions that are in each of our best interest, including vaccination if one is so inclined, which may well be of benefit if one is COVID-19 negative. Healthcare, like all freedoms, must and should always remain an informed choice, not a government directive.
Dennis L. Modry, BSc, MD, MSc, FRCS, FACCP, FACS
Clinical Associate Professor, Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Alberta Founder and Director of the Heart, Lung and Heart-Lung Transplant Program Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (1984 – 2015)
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