Editorials - May 27, 2021
Hope on the horizon?
Last week, several news outlets reported on a Canadian study that may give some hope to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are working on a new hypothesis that Alzheimer’s may be caused, at least in part, by an autoimmune disorder not unlike rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Alzheimer’s has been notoriously difficult to treat and this discovery could open up a new world of pharmaceutical possibilities.
According to the team of scientists from Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, traditional treatments have focused on removing the plaques in the brain that cause dementia with little success. With no new therapeutic breakthroughs in years, the team decided to think outside of the box.
This new research found specific autoantibodies (immune proteins that mistakenly turn on the body’s own tissue) in the cerebrospinal fluid, lending credence to the idea that there may be an autoimmune issue at play. Of course, injury or genetic predisposition could be what is allowing the disease to progress and this is very early in the research, but if immunosuppressant therapy could keep the disease from progressing, it could be a game-changer, especially for a society that is dealing with an aging population at risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Anyone who has dealt with an elderly parent suffering from this horrible disease will be watching and waiting for further news on this front. Let’s hope that science keeps thinking outside the box to come up with new treatments, cures and preventative medicine. – DS
Doing the right thing
While many of us are left to shake our heads and wring our hands at scenes of thousands rallying in Toronto in opposition of lockdowns, masks and vaccines, or a confrontational church openly defying public health guidelines, the real story is unfolding slowly, surely and quietly across the county as COVID-19 vaccine uptake continues to climb.
As of late last week, just under 50 per cent of Canadian adults had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those numbers are even higher in Ontario, where 60 per cent of adults have received their first dose, with those numbers destined to increase sharply in coming weeks after appointment eligibility was expanded to all adults.
This effort is now being rolled out consistently and efficiently with a steady supply of vaccines coming into the country after some initial bungling at all levels of government. Canada is now ahead of the vaccination schedule proposed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau months ago and eclipsing per-capita vaccination rates in the U.S. (though some experts say that comparing the two is more complicated than it sounds - with the U.S. boasting one in three adults as being fully vaccinated, while Canada’s comparable rates are below five per cent).
So, while it may seem like turning on the news at night to see rallies and protests likely frustrates most of us, this is surely a case of the loudest voice being heard the clearest. People are seeking the spotlight for not wearing masks, thumbing their noses at science and defying government directives, while the majority of people are putting their health and the health of their neighbours, family and friends first.
The pushback is here, it’s real and it’s frustrating, but take comfort in the fact that most people are listening to facts and taking steps to ensure a return to normal life, sooner rather than later. – SL
Clear as mud
While many people are happy to get the most recent COVID-19 reopening plan from Ontario’s provincial government, which seems to be simultaneously more detailed than any previous plan but still lacking crucial details, the changes show the same lack of communication that has plagued Premier Doug Ford’s government through the pandemic.
There are likely some legitimate questions to be asked about changing your tactics in the middle of the third period [wave] when the home team is finally looking like it will take the lead, however another significant concern is that everyone continues to be surprised by announcements made by the province: the people, the experts and even the health units.
For example, earlier this month, when vaccine eligibility opened to everyone over the age of 18, heads of health units were saying they weren’t advised of the change until everyone else heard about it. The plan had been to move to the next group: adults over the age of 30.
As a result of the change, which wasn’t even poorly communicated, it wasn’t communicated at all, there were significant issues with individuals securing their vaccination time slots across the province. Pair that with a lack of information about second dose protocols and it’s easy to understand why Canadians and Ontarians are concerned and confused.
While there have been a number of serious issues throughout this pandemic that are outside the control of both the provincial and federal governments, effectively communicating is not one of them. It’s great to have clear goals, but Ontarians need clear case numbers, information about outbreaks and specific allowances within the new reopening plan before they can make decisions. – JDS